Elizabeth Shippen Green

Elizabeth Shippen Green was inspired to begin an illustration career by Howard Pyle’s drawings in St. Nicholas magazine. She first studied under Thomas Eakins, Thomas Anshutz, and Robert Vonnoh at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. After graduation, she traveled throughout Europe and upon her return, illustrated articles for The Philadelphia Times and The Public Ledger. She received only 50 cents for the Times illustration, but it was her first official commission and she relished that aspect more than money. Then in 1897, she took up illustration study formally with the venerable Howard Pyle at the Drexel school. Her favorite teachers, Pyle, Anshutz, and Vonnoh, were the same teachers whom influenced Maxfield Parrish at the same august art institutions.

Ms. Green undertook advertising commissions for department stores and later for various articles, serial stories, and magazine illustrations, particularly children’s pages for periodicals such as Saturday Evening Post, St. Nicholas, Ladies’ Home Journal, and Women’s Home Companion. An article by a noted art critic described her as an “exciting new illustrator” which was a godsent endorsement enabling her to truly launch her career. In 1901, she signed an exclusive contract with Harper’s magazine and her work there lasted for twenty-three years. She was the first woman staff member for Harper’s Weekly.

During her studies with Pyle, Green met Violet Oakley and Jessie Willcox Smith. After the death of noted artist Edwin Austin Abbey, Howard Pyle suggested a possible mural commission to them which required the talents of all three young artists due to its formidable size. It was winning that commission that caused the three women to share a rented house called the Red Rose Inn. From that point onwards, the three women illustrators formed a life-long bond and shared studios and homes. Together, these professional women artists became known as the ‘Red Rose Girls’. Green individually was known for her artwork in Ladies’ Home Journal, Harper's, Saturday Evening Post and a number of imaginatively illustrated children’s books. The Five Little Pigs is one of many tales which her iconic images entrenched in American tradition. 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 dressed boy in ‘Its Walls Were as of Jasper’ fromDream Days (1900). Another image strongly influenced by Parrish is ‘I Can Build A Castle’ with what appears to be a Parrish castle in the clouds, in her Dream Blocks (1908).

Green married in 1911 and moved to Rhode Island, later to Boston, back to Philadelphia, and then 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, she returned to join her illustrator friends in Villanova and died just a few years later.