Historic display of children's books comes to Olin Art Gallery

Once Upon a Time: Victorian Illustrated Children's Books" was among the featured displays during the fall semester at Kenyon's Olin Art Gallery. Running from November 8 through December 18, the exhibit included alphabet books, fables, fairy tales, nursery rhymes, and poetry for children, or the child in every adult.

The historical exhibition showcased examples of children's book illustration and graphic production between 1850 and 1890, an era that brought dramatic growth in the pictorial development of fairy lore and fantasy, and the introduction of the modern children's picture book. Accompanied by explanatory text and a brochure, "Once Upon a Time" featured more than fifty illustrated volumes, among them such favorites as Five Little Pigs, Little Boy Blue, Mother Goose, and Sing a Song for Sixpence.

With publication centered largely in Great Britain, significant innovations in the latter half of the nineteenth century in book design, color block printing, illustration, and wood engraving gave new visual form to the folk-based literary traditions of the fairy tale, influenced chiefly by the Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault, and Hans Christian Andersen. "Once Upon a Time" also examined the influence of the Aesthetic Movement and Japanese art on children's books produced in the 1880s.

Other books on display included such classics as Lewis Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark (1876), Andrew Lang's In Fairyland (1875), Paul de Musset's Mr. Wind and Madame Rain (1864), Christina Rossetti's Sing-Song (1872), John Ruskin's The King of the Golden River (1860), Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses (1895), and William Makepeace Thackeray's The Rose and the Ring.

Among the prominently featured illustrators of the period were Walter Crane, George Cruikshank, Richard Doyle, Kate Greenaway, Arthur Hughes, Charles Robinson, and Eleanor Vere Boyle.

"Once Upon a Time" contained books on loan from a number of private collections. Daniel P. Younger, director of the Olin Art Gallery, served as the curator of the exhibit, which was dedicated to the memory of Herbert Hosmer (1913-95), an expert in children's books. A color brochure with an essay by Younger accompanied the exhibit.

Other exhibits during the 2001-02 academic year, all supervised by Younger, were September's "Multiple Narratives," featuring work by mixed-media painter Paul Gardere; October-November's "Roundabout: Sculptures and Prints," with a pieces by printmaker and sculptor Isabel Farnsworth; and January-February's "Spectral Images," by camera obscura artist and photographer Abelardo Morell. Late March and early April found the gallery hosting the annual shows of senior exercises by studio-art majors.

The year's final exhibition was the biennial art-department faculty show. Faculty members displaying their recent work included Read Baldwin '84, Claudia Esslinger, Barry Gunderson, Marcella Hackbardt, Karen Snouffer, and Shari Wasson.

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