The way these blogs work with newest posts at the top is a puzzle to solve. I want to tell you about this great genius who has been called the father of the American poster movement. He was a brilliant art director and illustrator whose works were way ahead of his time – they are excellent examples of great design as well as illustration. The bio and a photo of Penfield will appear later in a later post.
These illustrations are from an article that was featured in the January 1905 issue of Scribner's Monthly Magazine. It will be 100 years old in a few months. It was a significant assignment and entailed a trip across the Atlantic. He went to the Netherlands to do a series of articles depicting contemporary life in Holland. It established his reputation, and upon his return home he contributed regularly to mainstream monthlies such as Collier's, Life and The Saturday Evening Post.
Click on these images for enlarged views. This is an example of beautiful page layout and splendid illustration as illumination. He has letterspaced the hand lettering at the top, caps and lower case, considered a no-no by typographers of later years. Penfield gets away with it without a problem and it gives the work a very personal touch.
The scans are directly from the printed pages and reflect the dulll colors that are the product of American four-color printing in its infancy.
Enlarged views of the individual figures.
A house along a canal in Amsterdam. It ran the length of the 9.25 inch page as a right-hand sidebar.
Look at this marvelous portrait. He had obviously seen the Vermeers and instead of copying the Old Master, he interpreted the character in his own way and to satisfy the production requirements of the magazine.
He described the model as "... a girl, sweet and demure, who looked as if she was part of the Middle Ages, when people went about dressed like checker-boards. Her costume was black on the right side and the left was scarlet, with the exception of the sleeve, which was black.
"The serving girl spoke 'vaar leetle Englais,' but I managed to to make out that it was the costume of the Amsterdam orphan from 'Ze Charity School.' This costume was given to this institution in the fourteenth century and has been preserved to the present day."
The detail reveals Penfield's mastery of line and color. The entire illustration, above, was printed full-page with an image size of 4.75 by 7.25 inches.
Three little maids of Marken is the title of this full page illustration, image size: 6.75 by 4.75 inches.
Click on it for an enlarged view.
A Marken Interior is the title of this tour-de-force of architectural illustration. Marken is a very picturesque island village that has always been popular with tourists to the Netherlands. Penfield wrote, "Everyone you meet advises Marken ... and rightly so, for it takes you out into the country away from the modern influences, and lands you in an atmosphere of unadulterated Dutchness."
A Marken fishing boat. Click on image to enlarge.
Examples of Penfield's outstanding rendering in line. It looks to me like brush and probably a flexible pen for the thinner line. Whichever it is, it's mastery of the medium.
Click this image to enlarge. Stay tuned. There will be more coming up soon.