wyeth publication2

Illustration's "Golden Age"

The Golden Age of Illustration saw book and magazine illustration reach a level of excellence on a par with any form of artistic expression. The period lasted from the 1880s until shortly after World War I (although the active career of several later "golden age" illustrators went on for another few decades). At the time there wasn't any distinction between fine art and commercial art. Many established artists of this period such as Winslow Homer, John Sloan, and William Glackens also illustrated popular periodicals.


In America and Europe, a few decades earlier, newspapers, mass market magazines, and illustrated books had become the dominant media of public consumption. Improvements in printing technology freed illustrators to experiment with color and new rendering techniques. A small group of illustrators in this time became rich and famous.


In Europe artists such as Arthur Rackham, Kay Nielsen, and Edmund Dulac were among those that rose to prominence in this time. They were influenced by the style and techniques of the Pre-Raphaelites and Art Nouveau. While in the American golden age was influenced by the Brandywine Tradition founded by Howard Pyle and his students including N. C. Wyeth, Frank Earle Schoonover, and Jessie Willcox Smith.


Images top and left illustrated by N. C. Wyeth. Middle illustrated by Frank Earle Schoonover. Right illustrated by Howard Pyle.