"All of the (male) artists were pleasant, many were helpful, but none ever asked me to join them for lunch... because I was a woman. It wasn’t until twenty years later that I got a little angry about it… in retrospect."
- Barbara Bradley, speaking about her early days working in a New York City commercial art studio

Monday, March 8, 2010

Nell Wilson (1901 - 1985)

I found this illustration by an artist named Nell Wilson in an early '50s issue of Maclean's - Canada's weekly news magazine. But Wilson wasn't a Canadian... Maclean's often picked up second rights to illustrations originally published in the U.S. and in this case, it appears that they also purchased artwork from as far away as Australia!

My research on the Internet turned up a listing for Nell Wilson at this site. There are no examples of her work, but the site provides this brief summary of her career:

"Many of Nell Wilson's illustrations accompanied advertisements published in the Australian Womens Weekly during the 1940s."

For now, that's all I have to share with you on Nell Wilson.


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  3. Nell Wilson was indeed Australian and during the 1960's she taught at East Sydney Technical College (now The National Art School). I was a student in her illustration class and also in an evening life drawing class. She was in her late 60's by then, slightly built with white hair and a tanned, wrinkled face. She had a forceful personality and intimidated those in the class she thought weren’t trying hard enough. But I wasn’t one of those and I learned a lot.

    There are examples online of the advertising illustrations she did for products such as Cashmere Bouquet etc. But her best work, like your example, is rarely seen.

    She once brought to class a series of B/W watercolour paintings she had done for an Australian political campaign in the 1940's, probably the one opposing the nationalisation of banks. They were based on Norman Rockwell's Four Freedoms and they were stunning; so good I still remember them 50 years later. She said they had been requested by the National Archives to be stored for historic purposes. They don't seem to be online, but that's not surprising. The tragedy of Australia's great illustrators is that there just isn't much available.

    I discovered an excellent biography of Nell Wilson at Design & Art Australia Online, which has a great deal of information about her career. It mentions that Nell was the first Australian admitted to the New York Society of Illustrators. I have included a link to the biography at the end of my comments.

    I got on well with her and remember she once told me she used to live in Spain and received illustration commissions from Britain. She also told me that she knew Sir William Russell Flint and family – I'm sure her talents would not have gone unnoticed in such illustrious watercolour circles.

    She was one of Australia's great illustrators. I was fortunate to have met her and I have enjoyed sharing my memories of her.


  4. My research on the Internet turned up a listing for Nell Wilson

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