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The Red Rose Girls: An Uncommon Story of Art and Love
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0810990687, Paperback)Alice Carter's The Red Rose Girls traces the lives of three talented artists: Jessie Willcox Smith, Elizabeth Shippen Green, and Violet Oakley. After studying together under the sympathetic guidance of Howard Pyle in Philadelphia, the three (all youngest siblings) decided that they could work best away from the distractions of the city. In 1900, they established their home and studios in a rambling country house called the Red Rose Inn, leading Pyle to dub them the "Red Rose Girls." Strengthened by the emotional support and artistic inspiration that each gave the others, their careers blossomed. Green was a successful illustrator, especially for Harper's Magazine; Smith produced charming portraits of children; and Oakley was famous for huge murals commissioned to decorate state buildings. With their friend Henrietta Cozens acting as "housewife," their unconventional living arrangement attracted much interest, not all of it positive. Carter, a professor at San Jose State University, claims that it freed them from the domestic responsibilities and isolation that could cripple an artist, especially a female artist in pre-emancipated society. For eight years the four led an almost idyllic existence of genteel lifestyle and artistic productivity, but eventually the group disintegrated, with Green's marriage causing an especially painful break. Carter's sympathetic, easy prose perfectly complements the women's idealized art and their uncomplicated belief in the goodness of life. Combining delightful photographs of their domestic lives with examples of their work, The Red Rose Girls re-creates a vanished world of optimism and grace. --John Stevenson
(retrieved from Amazon Sat, 30 Apr 2011 13:57:18 -0400)
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