December 29, 2018

"The Reindeer Book" illustrated by Aurelius Battaglia (1965)

AURELIUS BATTAGLIA (1910-1984). He was the son of Sicilian emigrants and he grew up in the city where he was born, Washington DC.nHe graduated from the Corcoran Art School of Washington Dc., where worked as a teacher. He graduated as one of the Corcoran's most promising students, winning $50 in a Corcoran-sponsored art contest.
In 1934, the Public Works of Art Project commissioned Battaglia to paint murals in the children's section of the library in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood of Washington where he resided. The result was a stunning, whimsical panorama of anthropomorphic animals at play. It still hangs in the alcoves of the building's second floor. 
Battaglia migrated west in the late 1930s and worked for the Walt Disney Studios from 1937 to 1941. He contributed most notably to Dumbo, Fantasia, and Pinocchio and is credited as one of the writers of the latter. In the mid-1950s, Battaglia joined United Productions of America, a studio staffed by some of the industry's most accomplished, forward-thinking animation artists. Perhaps his most outstanding UPA contribution was the short film The Invisible Moustache of Raoul Dufy. Battaglia directed the film, which was nominated for a BAFTA award.
Battaglia was also a prolific children's book illustrator. His picture book work in the 1950s and 1960s differs significantly from the deco-inspired circus animals of his depression-era murals. They feature bold, solid colors and striking, stylized pen and brush work indicative of the looser, more abstract mid-century cartooning style that he helped pioneer. Notable examples include "Cowboy Jack, the Sheriff," "The Fire Engine Book," "Little Boy With a Big Horn," "When I Met Robin," "Captain Kangaroo's Read-Aloud Book," and "The Fireside Book of American Folk Songs." He contributed to the Childcraft book series published by Field Enterprises. 
In the 1930s, Battaglia worked in a flowing, deco-influenced, organic style informed by classic European illustration. His later children's book and animation work was emblematic of the radical, more abstract stylization prevalent in the 1950s and '60s, a trend he helped to establish.
Learn more about the illustrator. 

December 15, 2018

"The Twelve Days of Christmas" illustrated by Brian Wildsmith (1972)

BRIAN WILDSMITH (1930 – 2016), born in Yorkshire, England, was a British painter and children's book illustrator. He won a scholarship to London's Slade School of Fine Art, and then entered the Army and was assigned to teach mathematics. From 1954 to 1957, he returned to his first love, art, and taught it full-time. After three years, he resigned his job to become a free-lance illustrator of children's books and also created large abstract paintings. 
In all of Wildsmith's books, the illustrations are always as important as the text. His book illustrations were done in full-color, using gouache, which gives a transparent effect, or mixed with impasto, which provides a thick-textured appearance. He once described his style as representational with "abstract tendencies." 
Wildsmith won the 1962 Kate Greenaway Medal for British children's book illustration, for the wordless alphabet book ABC. For his contribution as a children's illustrator, Wildsmith was a runner-up for the Hans Christian Andersen Medal in 1966 and 1968. 
Learn more about the illustrator.