Art Wednesday

Kate Greenaway (17 March 1846 – 6 November 1901)

Children’s illustrator 

Kate Greenaway was the daughter of John Greenaway, a wood-engraver for Punch and the Illustrated London News. Kate received no formal education and was taught by local women, who themselves, had received no formal schooling. At the age of 12 she was given an education focusing on art and by 17 she had won several awards.  Her life was angelic and said it  “. . . was like a paradise."  This can be seen in her illustrations.

The children in her drawings were dressed in her own versions of late eighteenth century and Regency fashions: smock-frocks and skeleton suits for boys, high-waisted pinafores and dresses with mobcaps and straw bonnets for girls. The simplicity and charm of her watercolours appealed to the general public and made her work very popular.

This link will take you to some of her books (original) and the gentle artwork she was known for:

She was elected to membership of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours in 1889. Greenaway was extremely shy of public notice, and not less modest in private life.

She died of breast cancer at the age of 55.

Jumping Joan

* * *


  1. I do like Greenway's illustrations but as to whether it's Art...? Would you care to do a post on how you define the differenece between Art & art? lol Just curious. They are very lovely anyway & a pleasure to look on.

  2. Oh, I love Kate's ART! Such lovely pictures to look on. Thank you, Jo, for highlighting her. Her drawings make me smile big and thank God for the most ordinary of things. :)

  3. Ganeida - An artist is expressing their creativity and may use a variety of materials to share their passion of art — paintings on canvas, a sculpture, a photo, modern media and the end product may hang in a gallery, be wore (as in jewellery) or placed in a book. Last weeks artist created tiles for floors but very much considered an artist, just like his friend who designed wallpaper (both mass produced).

    The works of many illustrators clearly demonstrate their artistic abilities, many write and painting therefore not restricted in creative flair when it comes to their illustrations —Kate Greenaway created those characters and in general the books were selected to fit around her drawings. Artists can be commissioned to paint portraits, history is full of these, even though their topic was selected for them, they are still artists e.g. Rembrandt, Peter Paul Reuben etc... An illustrator is perhaps not much different to the court painter of days gone by!

    Illustrations tell a story, just as a painting does—however those in books often have words wrapped around the pictures so they work in tandem, communicating the message. The original artwork by many illustrators are now highly collectable and can sell for as much as any painting, especially the older works. Some even hang in galleries. Poster designers could be considered similar to illustrators — Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec comes to mind as he was both a painter and poster designer/illustrator.

    The “Picture Book Artists Association”, an independent association of professional children's book illustrators from around the world use the word “artist”, I doubt they see themselves as anything different.

    Just my thoughts.

  4. Jo: that was very enlightening. Thank you. Now I understand better your choice of artists.

  5. Art is anything where symbolic elements are arranged or placed in a way that influences or affects a person's emotions, senses or intellect, and therefore it is not always just something to look at. Other things that are defined as art include music.

    An artist is a person who creates art. Another usage is seen by illustration - Subway employees who put together subs are called Sandwich artists - it is a skill.

    The term art really encompases or refers to any mastery or skill that stimulates emotions and thoughts or stimulates the senses.

    What is art to one person may not appear to be art to another - for example, when a coherant intelligent adult creates a painting that consists of splashes or blobs of paint, to me that is a waste of time and not a form of art. To another person, it may provoke an emotion or thought and to them, it is an art-form. I personally think that art is a very personal thing!

    I have a Kate Greenaway book (have had it since I was a child), but never really stopped to look at her artwork before!

  6. Oh Jo - these illustrations are precious - I am so in love with them. If I could ever find a book with these illustrations I would be thrilled. Thank you so so much for sharing these - I am on the search for one of her books~~


  7. Oh, I love Kate Greenaway! In fact, I love her so much I decorated my blog with her stuff. :) Thanks for sharing these pictures. I hadn't seen the bottom one before, with the woman carrying sticks. Beautiful!

  8. The pictures to me depict a much simpler time.
    I like the soft muted colors:)

  9. Jo~ We really enjoyed this lesson and are trying to find some Miss Greenaway's work at our library. My children like to copy good illustrations. We are currently admiring Gyo Fujikawa (have you ever seen her work? Do you think you would ever highlight her work?...pretty please?)

  10. Mrs Santos - I am glad you liked Kate Greenaway, they are so lovely and fresh. I hadn't heard of Gyo Fujikawa before and I have just looked her up, her work is also lovely - I can tell that here works has a Japanese influences as that style of drawing also appears in some Japanese childrens anime. I have add her to my list!


Post a Comment