Sublime Children’s Book Art at The Brandywine Museum

CHADDS FORD, Penn – This fall, on public view for the first time, the Brandywine River Museum is exhibiting more than 100 images of fantasy by some of the world’s most renowned illustrators in Flights into Fantasy: The Kendra and Allan Daniel Collection of Children’s Illustration.

New Jersey residents Kendra and Allan Daniel began their collection of children’s illustration in the mid-1980s. Their selections have always been based on connoisseurship. Initially, their interest was in American illustrators, but soon they discovered the work of eminent British illustrators and artists from other countries.

In the collection, children are frequently recurring subjects, and the psychological state of childhood where the mind wanders freely into a world of wonder is a prevailing theme.

“As a collector, it is spiritually rewarding to cultivate the child in oneself,” Kendra Daniel said, “to be open to new ways of seeing art that reflects the condition of childhood.”

The Daniels’ collection focuses on works from the Golden Age of Illustration, a period between the 1880s and 1920s that produced unprecedented excellence in book and magazine illustration. Works by numerous British illustrators are on view in the exhibition, including Arthur Rackham’s (1867-1939) delicate pen illustration for Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens and William Heath Robinson’s (1872-1944) imaginative illustration for A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

American illustration during the Golden Age was led by Howard Pyle (1853-1911) and his students. The exhibition features illustrations by several of Pyle’s students such as Jessie Willcox Smith (1863-1935), Elizabeth Shippen Green (1871-1954) and Ethel Franklin Betts (1878-unknown). Works by other Americans include Harrison Cady’s (1877-1970) comic illustrations for Thornton Burgess’ Peter Rabbit, John Neill’s (1877-1943) energetic drawings for L. Frank Baum’s Oz books, Ludwig Bemelmans’ (1898-1962) illustrations for the Madeline books, and Peter Newell’s (1862-1924) quirky drawings for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Celebrated Danish-born artist Kay Nielsen (1886-1957), a favorite of the Daniels, has a prominent place in the exhibition. A former staff artist for Disney, Nielsen created imaginative drawings for the 1940 Disney classic Fantasia. Nielsen’s range and captivating style are well demonstrated in the eight works appearing in this exhibition, including several for his famous and critically acclaimed book, East of the Sun and West of the Moon.

Works of fantasy involve fairies or otherworldly beings, as well as animals transformed into talking, walking characters such as Ernest H. Shepard’s (1879-1976) figure drawings of A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh, Jean de Brunhoff’s (1899-1937) beloved elephant, Babar, and William Pene du Bois’ (1916-1993) Otto books of the 1930s.

Illustrations from the Brandywine River Museum’s permanent collection by such important artists as Howard Pyle, N.C. Wyeth and Frank Schoonover will be on view in other galleries at the museum to complement the special exhibition.

An illustrated catalogue accompanying the exhibition is available for purchase in the Brandywine Museum Shop and online at

Flights into Fantasy will travel to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts, where it will be on view July 1 through October 26, 2008.

Located on U.S. Route 1 in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, the Brandywine River Museum is open daily, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., except Christmas Day. Admission is $8.

For more information, call 610-388-2700 or visit the museum’s website at