Monday, October 24, 2011

Besse Pease Gutmann Week Begins

If you read the title of this post, scratched your head, and said, "Huh?!"--let me explain. Starting today I'm going to devote another week, Monday through Friday, to a specific category of artwork. I really enjoyed focusing on my son's T-Rex drawings for a week back in June, and then on inspirational religious artwork in August. Now, I'd like to introduce you to an American artist named Besse Pease Gutmann, whose works I just absolutely love. Her vintage style is not as popular today as it was during the years that she gained fame as an artist, but you may have seen some of her sweet renderings of rosy-cheeked infants and young children--or to use the German word, putti--on greeting cards or in shops that sell posters and framed prints.

The Gutmann painting above is called "Taps," and it is one of my very favorite pieces of art. Years and years ago, when I still had pudgy-bellied putti of my own--who spent a good deal of time wearing footy pajamas like these and toddling all over the place--I found this unframed poster at an art shop at the mall. I fell instantly in love with it, took it home with me, and framed it inexpensively myself. It has been hanging up in my house ever since, a tender reminder to me of five little boys I used to know (little boys who had the audacity to grow up and stop letting me dress them like this!). It was a sad day for me when my boys stopped wearing p.j.'s and went to bed in shorts and t-shirts instead. There is nothing in the world as sweet and snuggly as a wee one wearing footy pajamas. Am I right?

Besse Pease Gutmann (1876-1960) was a prolific American artist and illustrator who had a unique talent for highlighting the innocence of young children. In the early 1900's, she was one of the better-known magazine and book illustrators in the U.S. She had three children of her own, and she used them as models for many of her illustrations. (I think if she were alive today and got a glimpse of my twin granddaughters, she would be inspired to reproduce their beautiful faces in her paintings as well!) If you've never seen this artist's work and you're a fan of vintage art, babies, and small children (and puppies!), you're going to enjoy Besse Pease Gutmann Week! Stay tuned for more cuteness in the next few days.

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