Illustrations Art Gallery

Ida Rentoul Outhwaite – Illustrations for a Bunch of Wild Flowers 1933

Ida Rentoul Outhwaite (1888 – 1960), was an Australian illustrator of children’s books. Her work mostly depicted fairies. She is a well known and perhaps the most famous Australian children’s book illustrator. She has a long and successful career and well loved around the world for her fairies illustrations.

Ida Rentoul Outhwaite’s first illustration was published by New Idea magazine in 1904 when she was just 15 years of age – it accompanied a story written by her older sister, Anne Rattray Rentoul. In the years that followed, the sisters collaborated on a number of stories. Following her marriage to Grenbry Outhwaite in 1909, she also collaborated with her husband – most notably for The Enchanted Forest (1921), The Little Fairy Sister (1923) and Fairyland (1926). In a number of cases, her children – Robert, Anne, Wendy and William – served as models for her illustrations. She inspired a number of artists including Edith Alsop, Ethel Spowers and Ethel Jackson Morris.

Fairies and flowers theme, it is strangely similar in theme to the work of Cecily Mary Barker and her Flowers Fairies. Cecile Barker was a very popular British illustrator at the end of 1920s with her flowers fairies series books. Perhaps Outhwaite took some inspiration from her books to create this work. It’s unusual and strays a bit away from her early fairies, usually playful among friends instead of alone.

Presenting one of Outhwaite’s later work. Illustrations for the First edition of A Bunch of Wild Flowers, published by Angus & Robertson in 1932.

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