Leonard Weisgard. Children’s Book Illustrator.
Leonard Weisgard was born in New Haven in 1916, Connecticut but spent much of his
early childhood in Manchester, England, where his father originally came from. His interest
in the quality of children’s books began after his family moved back to the USA when he was 8.
As a schoolboy in New York, he was dissatisfied with the books supplied by the public schools
he attended. He found the illustrations monotonous and thought that the world could not be
all that dreary and limited to only one colour. He went on to study art at the Pratt Institute
and the New School for Social Research, where he was influenced by primitive cave paintings,
Gothic and Renaissance art and avant-garde French illustrators of children’s books of the 1920s.
He used a wide range of colours and media in his books, including gouache, poster paint, crayon,
chalk, decoupage, stencilling and pen and ink. Weisgard also studied dance with Martha Graham
and worked in the field of window display. He began his career making illustrations for magazines
such as Good Housekeeping, The New Yorker and Harper’s Bazaar.
There’s a whole list with images of some of the 200 books that Leonard created here, and some
beautiful examples of his watercolour illustrations for Alice In Wonderland here.