Monday, November 25, 2013

Garth Williams Pencil Studies

I've lately been buying up large lots of preliminary pencil studies by the celebrated illustrator, Garth Williams. Heritage Auctions is selling his estate and I just couldn't resist acquiring some his wondefully expressive pencil studies.

Here is Mr. Williams' obituary from The New York Times:

Garth Williams, Book Illustrator, Dies at 84

By Mel Gussow, The New York Times, published May 10, 1996

Garth Williams, the artist who illustrated E. B. White's Stuart Little and Charlotte's Web and scores of other children's classics, died on Wednesday at his home in Guanajuato, Mexico. He was 84.

With the precision of Durer but with his own sense of innocence and wonderment, Mr. Williams created a world of storybook characters. Although the books were written by a diverse range of authors, the drawings all had Mr. Williams's impeccable, heartwarming touch.

Generations of children picture their favorite fictional characters as drawn by Mr. Williams: that dapper mouse Stuart Little; the kindhearted spider Charlotte and her friend, Wilbur the pig; and bears, dogs, kittens, crickets, elves, fairies, children and grown-ups in books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, George Selden, Charlotte Zolotow, Else H. Minarik and many others. Mr. Williams also wrote the text for seven children's books, but it is primarily as an illustrator that his work is cherished.

He believed that books "given, or read, to children can have a profound influence." For that reason, he said, he used his illustrations to try to "awaken something of importance . . . humor, responsibility, respect for others, interest in the world at large."

During the 1950's, Mr. Williams also illustrated Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie and its sequels. In addition, he illustrated books by Margaret Wise Brown, Russell Hoban, and Randall Jarrell, among others. Among his most popular books were those written by George Selden, beginning with The Cricket in Times Square.

In 1958, Mr. Williams wrote and illustrated The Rabbits' Wedding, which became the subject of controversy because the book dealt with a marriage between a white rabbit and a black rabbit. It was attacked by the White Citizens Council in Alabama and charged with promoting racial integration and was removed from general circulation by the Alabama Public Library Service Division. In the book, the rabbits are married by moonlight with a peaceable kingdom of animals in attendance.

For the past 40 years, Mr. Williams lived in a hacienda that he built in Guanajuato and in his home in San Antonio, Tex.

He is survived by his wife, Leticia; five daughters, Fiona Hulbert of Brussels, Bettina Shore of Toronto, Jessica Rose of New York City, Estyn, of Newport, R.I., and Dilys, of Guanajuato; and by a son, Dylan, of New York City. His daughter Fiona was the model for Fern, the little girl in Charlotte's Web.




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