No place: 1910. Pen and ink with gouache highlights on paper, mounted to illustration board, measuring 4.25 x 20.5 inches. Initialed “J.G.” in lower right image. Publisher’s pencil notes above and below image; artist’s full name (Jessie Gillespie Willing) and address to verso, with partial typed publication label including caption and date. Tape repair to verso of lower righthand corner, not affecting image.
Original silhouette illustration published in Life magazine on March 17, 1910. Gillespie’s characteristic wit and sense of style are on display in this parade of society ladies in comically large-brimmed hats. The caption alludes to Charles Lamb’s poem “The Old Familiar Faces,” gently poking fun at the fashionable women obscured by flowers, folds, veils, and feathers. Brooklyn-born Jessie Gillespie Willing was the daughter of Thomas Willing, art editor of the Associated Sunday Magazine syndicate, credited with “discovering” illustrators like J. C. Coll and Grace Drayton of Campbell’s Kids fame. Fearing accusations of nepotism, he suggested Jessie drop her surname when her art began receiving attention from publishers. Gillespie was a prolific illustrator, working for Life, Vogue, and Ladies’ Home Journal, among others, but is best remembered for her silhouettes, especially her instantly recognizable images for the Girl Scouts of America. A charming original illustration by the premiere silhouettist of her day.