Holling, Lucille Webster
(1900-1989) American Illustrator.
Holling, Holling C.
(1900-1973) American Illustrator.
Our entry on the Hollings was written as part of an effort to identify and present women illustrators in the Walt Reed Archive, as well as in my own personal library. The Hollings, a couple who practiced mostly in tandem, worked almost exclusively in children's books. Consequently they did not show up in Walt's clip files. Among the illustrated books I did found a copy of The Book of Indians, a quasi-ethnography for children, published by Platt and Munk in 1935, but that requires more contextualization than I had time and energy for.
Because we were most concerned with Lucille, I tried to find a project that she alone produced. I found Children of Many Lands at a second-hand book sale, and tracked down Kimo the Whistling Boy online. Kimo is her illustration credit alone; they share credit on Children of Many Lands. Lucille is listed first in our entry here, given the goals of this project.
Lucille Webster studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, and shared a studio with her sister. She met her soon-to-be-husband at the Art Institute.
Holling C. Holling (neé Holling Allison Clancy) was born in Holling Corners, Michigan. His early interests in science and nature informed his career later on as a children’s book author and illustrator. Holling graduated from the Art Institute and worked in the taxidermy department at the Field Museum in Chicago.
In 1926, the new couple set sail on the University World Cruise, sponsored by NYU. They were able to secure working gigs to fund the enterprise. Lucille designed scenery and costumes for onboard theatricals, and Holling served as the ship's art instructor.
Upon their return, Lucille and Holling worked in advertising. But they were both outdoorsy types, and Holling avidly pursued his self-education in natural history and amateur ethnography.
Lucille produced fashion illustrations and a few of her own illustrated book projects: Kimo (1928) and Songs from around a Toadstool Table (1938). Holling dedicated his life mostly to children’s books. He's best known for Paddle-to-the-Sea (1942), which was a Caldecott Honor book that year (Robert McCloskey's Make Way for Ducklings won the Prize in '42.)
The works on which they collaborated featured black and white line art and rich watercolors. Reasoning from the more modeled approach to the color plates in Paddle, the lovely watercolors shown here from Children From Other Lands are likely to be Lucille's. The black and whites (which are themselves quite good) are HCH's.
An important note concerning these projects: Kimo (and much of the Hollings' work) raises certain questions about the fetishization and artistic "colonization" of tribal cultures. The analysis can be overdone, but it would be naive to present these things absent recognition of the cultural complexity involved. The work itself could be described as naive, but that would not quite be fair. It is of its period, and grounded to every degree possible (the Hollings' appear to have been fastidious) in knowledge of indigenous crafts and folkways.
The dangers associated with well-meaning stereotypes were not recognized in the 1920s and 30s. People like the Hollings were deeply respectful of traditional cultures within then-contemporary limits.
All that said, the texts of many of these books (especially Children From Other Lands) are inescapably patronizing, and often discomfiting.