Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Different Quality of Line

Scottish artist Jessie M. King—(1875-1949) created a more emotionally driven image—Unlike most of her contemporaries at the turn of the century, King was interested in portraying a highly stylized figure, and illustration that communicated by its design as well as by its illustrative properties.

King would become quite popular as a book designer and illustrator in her early career, but it was her design sense that sets her apart, making her work readily identifiable. Frail lines, (I read one description as gossamer— which fits nicely) usually flat figure treatments, often set within a framework. The caption or accompanying text was often woven within the construct of the piece. King's form of calligraphy was so distinct that it can be used today, through a font which bears the name of a "center" she formed for women artists, Greengate. (I've actually used it frequently, and only now discovered it to be based on her lettering...)

Brought to my attention recently through the latest Calla Edition releases- the first two here are from that volume, (which is Oscar Wilde's fairy tale collection—A House of Pomegranates, illustrated in 1915) and a few from some others, to show a bit more variety. The black-and-white line piece is from a 1901 book entitled Modern Pen Drawings. It is captioned "Pelleas et Mélisande," and would have been among her earliest published works. The final two pieces are from a portfolio of drawings that King had published in a Christmas issue of The Studio, in 1913—


My class at Montclair U. is moving along nicely... we looked at some of Jessie King's line work this past week.

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