This is a painting based on a badly faded image in an old children’s book I possess. The image is an illustration by Anne Anderson, a Scottish illustrator (1874-1952). It’s intriguing in various ways, prominent of which for me is a certain unnerving monstrousness. If I were a child and saw this figure making her way down the cobblestone path in my direction, I would likely run in terror in the other direction.
I say this good-naturedly. I admire Anderson’s work. What strikes me in this image is the interesting ways in which her attire is … distorted? Her clothing seems to be literally inflated, like a balloon! Let’s not even dwell on the diamonds and stripes of her costume, the odd, puffy things around her wrists, her rather large feet in the buckled slippers, and the brobdingnagian, witch-like hat!
It’s all wonderful and mysterious and surely period-centric in its way, but not exactly cuddly. In a way it smacks of today’s clowns and Santa Clauses: How many kids want to snuggle with either of those?
(c) 2018 JMN.