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 Elizabeth Shippen Green  (1871 - 1954)

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Lived/Active: Pennsylvania      Known for: illustration, childhood genre painting

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Ad Code: 3
Elizabeth Shippen Green
from Auction House Records.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Elizabeth Shippen Green, born in Philadelphia in 1871, is noted for her many illustrations, which may be found in the pages of numerous books and magazines. Her gracious lines, solid compositions, and grasp of color are a testament to her mentor, Howard Pyle.

Green was the daughter of Jasper Green, engraver, illustrator, and Civil War corespondent who encouraged her early interest in art, expressed by drawing flowers as a child. After seeing Howard Pyles drawings in St. Nicholas, she was inspired to be an illustrator. At 18 years old, she enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts where she studied under Thomas Eakins, Robert Vonnoh, and Thomas Anshutz.

Green began illustrating womens fashions for store catalogs, newspapers, and occasionally childrens magazines while she was still in school at the Academy. At eighteen she published her first illustration, entitled Naughty Lady Jane, in the Philadelphia Times, for which she received the munificent sum of fifty cents. She also spent six years studying abroad.

Green had already worked for the Ladies Home Journal, Saturday Evening Post, Harpers Weekly, and other publications when she enrolled in Howard Pyles class at Drexel Institute in 1894. There she met Violet Oakley and Jessie Willcox Smith, who would become her lifelong friends.

If Thomas Eakins can be credited with encouraging her solid draftsmanship, then Howard Pyle must be credited with teaching her how to apply it. Under his tutelage, his students were taught how to interpret life. Pyle had an enormous impact on all his students, not only because of his technical instruction, but also because of his positive, optimistic, and richly imaginative philosophy.

Elizabeth was named the first woman staff artist for Harpers Weekly, and worked exclusively for them from 1902 into the mid-twenties. Her work can also be found in advertisements for Kodak, Ivory soap, Elgin watches and Peerless ice cream freezers.

In 1901, Green moved into a house with Violet Oakley and Jessie Smith. Located in Villanova, Pennsylvania, they called it the Red Rose Inn. The three women lived there for many years, along with Elizabeth Greens parents and a friend, Henrietta Cozens, who was a skilled gardener and household manager. Smith and Green collaborated on a book, "The Book of the Child," in 1903, both contributing full-page color illustrations.

In 1905, the Red Rose Inn had been sold, and the women had to move. They moved to a farm in the country that they called Cogslea. At that time Green announced her engagement to Huger Elliott, an architect from Philadelphia and professor at the University of Pennsylvania. They did not marry, however, for another six years, as she did not want to burden him with the care of her parents. They remained engaged until her parents passed away, and married on June 3, 1911, when Elizabeth Green was forty. The couple then moved to Rhode Island, where Elliott became the director of the Rhode Island School of Design, and later to Boston and New York. Together, they collaborated on a book of illustrated nonsense verse. In 1951, after her husbands death, she retired to Philadelphia to be near her friends in her last years.

Green illustrated over twenty books, most of them after her marriage, and did countless pictures for leading magazines of her day. Her work was decorative and brilliant in color, exhibiting a similar style to her former roommates, Smith and Oakley, influenced perhaps by the Pre-Raphaelite movement and Art Nouveau. This decorative quality of her work was combined with the solid draftsmanship that had been encouraged by her teacher Thomas Eakins.

Using flat shapes with fluid but defining outlines of important elements, Greens work is suggestive of stained glass in her use of enclosed areas of brilliant color, which is not surprising considering her roommate, Oakley, was commissioned to do many stained glass windows. Greens drawing technique was similar to Smiths, often using a charcoal lightly sprayed with fixative, then layered with watercolor. Green was also noted for pen-and-ink work and for a strong style of line against mass.

Biography from American Illustrators Gallery:
Elizabeth Shippen Green was first inspired to go into illustration as a career by Howard Pyle's drawings in St. Nicholas magazine. She studied fine art under the tuteluge of the famous trio of great artists, Thomas Eakins, Thomas Anshutz, and Robert Vonnoh, at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

After graduation, she traveled to Europe to complement her formal fine art studies with exposure to the magnificent museums and rich resources abroad.

Upon her return, Ms. Green illustrated several small, inconsequential articles for The Philadelphia Times and The Public Ledger, an underwhelming response to the perfect education and elaborate preparations she had made for her chosen career. She received only 50 cents for her first Times illustration, but it was her first official commission, and she relished that aspect more than the money. Then later in 1897, she was able to able to gain admission to study illustration formally with the venerable Howard Pyle at Drexel Institute. Coincidently, her array of teachers: Pyle, Anshutz, and Vonnoh, were the very same teachers whom so greatly influenced Maxfield Parrish at these same institutions.

Upon returning to Philadelphia, Ms. Green undertook advertising commissions for department stores and later she did illustrations for various articles, serial stories, and magazines, particularly the children's pages for periodicals such as The Saturday Evening Post, St. Nicholas, The Ladies' Home Journal, and Women's Home Companion.

She was quite proud of her newfound progress. An article by a noted art critic described her as an "exciting new illustrator" a godsend, enabling her to truly launch her career.

In 1901, she signed an exclusive contract with Harper's magazine and her work lasted there for more than twenty-three years thereafter. Elizabeth Shippen Green was the first woman staff member at Harper's Weekly. During her studies with Pyle, Green met Violet Oakley and Jessie Willcox Smith. Howard Pyle suggested a possible mural commission to them to replace Edwin Austin Abbey, after his sudden death. The commission required the talents of all three young artists due to its formidable size.

It was that project which caused these three women to share a rented house, the Red Rose Inn. From that point, the three lady illustrators formed a life-long bond. Together, these professional women artists were called the 'Red Rose Girls'.

Green individually was known for her artwork for The Ladies' Home Journal, Harpers, The Saturday Evening Post and a number of imaginatively illustrated children's books, including The Five Little Pigs, one of many tales that became entrenched in American tradition with her iconic images. She illustrated a number of other books including The Book of the Child, Book of the Little Past, Tales of Shakespeare, Daughter of the Rich, Torch, and Mother Carey's. One can clearly see the influences of her contemporary and friend Maxfield Parrish, in her work.

Her painting, 'Foreign Children' from A Child's Garden of Verses (1905), pictures a young boy in a sailors outfit with a large straw hat with broad rim, with his back to the viewer. It is directly reminiscent of Parrish's image of a similarly placed and similarly dressed boy in 'Its Walls Were as of Jasper' from Dream Days (1900). Another image strongly influenced by Parrish is 'I can build a castle' with what appears to be a Parrish-like castle in the clouds, in her Dream Blocks (1908). It is as if the castle were subcontracted to MP as it seemed to be directly from his Dream Days or even more similar to his other images in the Knave of Hearts.

Green married in 1911 and moved to Rhode Island, Boston and then back to Philadelphia, and on to New York City. Finally, her husband was appointed Director of the Philadelphia College of the Arts, which prompted yet another move back to Philadelphia, though they ultimately returned to New York. All this while, Green continued to illustrate whatever contracts came her way. In 1951, just after her husband's death, Elizabeth Shippen Green returned to her illustration clique in Villanova, and died there, a few years later.

©2004 National Museum of American Illustration

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Elizabeth Green is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915
Women Artists

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