Elenore Abbott

Elenore Plaisted was born in Lincoln, Maine, in 1875, later marrying Yarnell Abbott. She studied in Pennsylvia and Paris before entering the famous Drexel Institute in 1899, where she studied with Howard Pyle. Her illustrations appeared in many magazines of the time, such as Saturday Evening Post, Harper's Magazine, and Scribner's. She also illustrated books such as Stevenson's Kidnapped and Treasure Island, Johann David Wyss' Swiss Family Robinson, Louisa May Alcott's An Old-Fashioned Girl, and did a color treament of Tenniel's engravings for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. And, of course, Grimm's Fairy Tales. She combined a childlike, vigorous imagination with a surpassing skill with watercolors. She died in 1935, and we wish we knew more about her.


So far I have two books with Abbott's illustrations: this one and Alice in Wonderland, in which she shares illustration credits with the great John Tenniel. Shown here are some of my favorite illustrations from Grimm. As this site grows, I'll add Alice images, too.

I don't often see the covers of books shown on the web, but I thought this one on the right was especially charming.





Such muted tones. And the trees almost look like Japanese brushwork. Did you spot the lion yet?

I've wrestled with the question of whether it's OK to modify an artist's work. Mostly I want to be authentic to the original, although I admit that I often boost the intensity of the colors. After all, these books are often nigh on a century old, and the pictures could have faded. Right?

But this next image needed some help. I thought the dragon (wondrous and a little Chinese) would have wanted to be more striking, and the whole thing looked faded and green. I might have gone a little overboard, I admit, and I'm not crazy about how the rocks look, but it's more vibrant.

Before meddling


After meddling


  The benefit of working on an image (and I worked on this pretty hard) is that you learn things. On the left is the area below the princess' skirt. You can see that Abbott originally extended the skirt further down the rocks, but then changed her mind.


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