Childhood Holiday Memories Collection - Easter Jessie Willcox Smith
Childhood Holiday Memories Collection - Easter by Jessie Willcox Smith. First issue in the series. Knowles China Company, 1986. Sponsored by the Pennsylvania Academy of The Fine Arts. Plate size approx. 8.5 inches. Suggested Retail $50.00
She stands sheltered beneath a weeping willow, an arboreal canopy which both protects the vulnerable child from the elements and embraces her to suggest her unity with all of nature. Lost in her own thoughts (no doubt anticipating the Easter egg hunt and the feast of baked ham and coconut cake to follow), the child is as fresh and pretty as the flowers at her feet. as new as the tender leaves on the willow: she herself a part of the promise that is Easter.
In Jessie Willcox Smith's -Easter:' we see an artist at the very summit of her power to evoke meaning and emotion. Simple in composition yet complex in content. -Easter- employs only three basic components—the girl, her flowers, and the tree—to convey the eternal story of Easter.
The artist first establishes a pattern of strong verticals: the drooping willow leaves, the tall blades of grass in which the young girl stands, and the girl herself, a delicate but nevertheless imposing figure in a festive dress and bonnet.
Then, as counterpoint to these natural verticals. Miss Smith sets a bouquet of flowers, a basket overflowing with an abundance of joyous color, which creates a cruciform shape to provide compositional variety even as it subtly reminds us of the religious meaning of the holiday.
In contrast to the sharp linearities of the design is the gentle oval of the young girl's face, framed by Titian-red hair. and by the bonnet, with its accents of rose and white to give it dramatic emphasis. The face of this innocent child, fresh and radiant as the springtime sun. is the central image in this charming work that celebrates the endless cycle of rebirth and renewal.
The visual elements are presented appropriately in a limited palette of primary and secondary colors. The manganese green of the willow; the cadmium red, cobalt blue, and titanium white of the flowers: and the chrome yellow of the dress are the pure. vibrant, undiluted colors of spring. the colors of nature awakening after the long sleep of winter. A mood of joy and exhilaration is thus created, much like a symphonic motif that underscores, reiterates, and embellishes the theme.
In the child we see that theme brought to radiant life. All the techniques of the great painters of the high Renaissance are employed to make the statement: the formal staging, the theatrical lighting, the scrupulous modeling, almost sculptural in its evocation of volume.
But the eye at last is drawn irresistibly to the profoundly expressive beauty of the child's face. In the wide, innocent eyes, the arched brows, and the delicacy of the mouth. we see the unspoiled newness which is childhood, a microcosm of the newness of the earth in its rebirth at springtime and the spiritual renewal that comes with Easter.
With consummate artistic mastery, Jessie Willcox Smith has created a child who personifies the message of hope that is Easter. Like a just-opened flower or a tender shoot on a tree, a child is a new creation, radiant with the pleasure of being alive, brimming with unexplored potential. As lovely as the day itself, this little girl is a gentle reminder that the spirit of Easter renews us all. whether we are young in age or young at heart.
E-mail a friend about this item.
Return to Catalog