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Monday, December 5, 2011

Illustrator: William Meade Prince

Until recently, our library basement held a treasure of old books that were either duplicates of holdings or not suitable for the collection for other reasons.  Some were disintegrating and therefore even more attractive to some me.  One of the books I rescued for a small donation was the following English literature textbook from 1949.

Some of the more striking illustrations in the book are by William Meade Prince.  Have you ever heard of him? 

My favorite from the book:  Bonny Barbara Allan

And every stroke that the dead-bell gave,
It cried, Woe to Barbara Allan!

And Gulliver..... 

The horses of the army, and those of the royal stables, having been daily led before me, were no longer shy, but would come up to my very feet without starting.  The riders would leap them over my hand as I held it on the ground; and one of the emperor's huntsmen, upon a large courser, took my foot, shoe and all, which was indeed a prodigious leap.
Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels

To many a youth and many a maid
Dancing in the chequered shade;
And young and old come forth to play
On a sunshine holiday,
Till the livelong daylight fail

L'Allegro by John Milton

William Meade Prince was the Southern, less famous Norman Rockwell.

His way with words is almost as impressive as his way with the paintbrush.  In his autobiographical love letter to his first home of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, he wrote this memory of revisiting an old house he used to frequent as a child: 

When I entered that old house again after being so long away, it was pretty much as it had been, but the most familiar thing about it was the smell, the personal and particular fragrance some old houses have and never lose--of leather-bound books and linen packed away in lavender, and polished furniture and woodsmoke--and, intangibly, the presence felt of people, young and old, long gone.

William Meade Prince in The Southern Part of Heaven

Rockwell's cover illustrations for the Saturday Evening Post and Boy's Life have been admired by almost every American.  Prince's covers for Country Gentleman have been overlooked (or forgotten) by almost every American.  Of course, Norman Rockwell drew the everyman, the person we can still relate to today.  We can often see ourselves in his illustrations.
What do you think?  Was Prince every bit as good as Rockwell?  Why is he not as celebrated?


Vicki said...

Hi there! I definitely see some similarities in their work. Thanks for stopping by this week.

Dizzy-Dick said...

Thank you for reminding us about Prince and his talent.

The Quintessential Magpie said...

I would definitely say he is very talented. I loved reading this. Thanks.

Glad you rescue books.