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Picturing a World

Block that illustration!

Last week, I had the privilege of privately visiting the library at Edith Wharton’s house in Lenox, Massachusetts, The Mount, where Nynke Dorhout, the librarian, showed me (among many other treasures) Wharton’s own first-edition copies of The House of Mirth (1905). In one, the illustrations were intact. In the other—autographed boldly by the author on the fly-leaf—the line “Illustrations by A. B. Wenzell” had been struck through on the title page and the pictures removed throughout the book. Art criticism can’t be more direct than that!

Albert Beck Wenzell (1864–1917) was Jeanette’s contemporary. He studied at the Académie Julian and hoped for a career painting portraits and landscapes; but commissions in his native Detroit were few, and he ended up as an illustrator of high society for books and magazines in New York. I’ll keep him in mind when I’m thinking about Jeanette’s forays into illustration.

For more of Wenzell’s work, click here.

To view another novel illustrated by him, click here.

For more of his paintings, click here.

And if you are in the Berkshires, be sure to visit The Mount, where the gardens are spectacular, the house fascinating, and the staff is friendly and helpful.
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