Wednesday, June 12, 2013

illustrated world of virginia frances sterrett

Blondine and the Tortoise

Europa and the Bull

Old French Fairy Tales
Blondine Threw Her Arms Around the Deer

Medea and the Snakes

Proserpina and the Sea Nymphs

Virginia Frances Sterrett
When Sterrett reached 19, two things happened: first, she received 
a commission to illustrate her very first book called Old French 
Fairy Tales by Comtesse de Segur.  Second, she came down with 
tuberculosis which soon began to sap her strength.  The race was on.
For the rest of her short life, Sterrett worked as hard as her failing 
strength would allow, illustrating Tanglewood Tales
the Arabian Nights, and Myths and Legends.

By the time she turned 22, she had to enter a sanatorium where she
could only work for short periods of time before resting.  Yet, Sterrett's
exhaustion does not show up in her pictures.  You do not see her
taking shortcuts or compromising the quality of her work.  She seemed
intent on making her pictures perfect, to isolate them from the 
limitations and frustrations of her life.
Virginia knew the game was fixed against her; she will not have a 
lifetime to improve her skills or compile a major body of work.
The work under those restrictions might have made sense to give
up or resort to drink, but still she persisted.  The time was devoted to
making pictures. She was almost finished with Myths and Legends when she passed 
into the spirit world.

The local newspaper, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, ran an obituary that
remarked upon the disparity between her life and exotic world
she drew:
Virginia's life spent in prosaic places of the West and Middle West,
she made pictures of haunting loveliness, suggesting Oriental lands
she never saw and magical realms no one ever knew except in the 
dreams of childhood....Perhaps it was the hardships of her own life
that gave the young girl's work its fanciful quality.  In the imaginative
scenes she set down on paper, there must have been an escape from
the harsh actualities of existence.