Jane Oliver

(1921-?) American Illustrator.

Very little can be reconstructed of the career of Jane Oliver. She had a gift for shape and surface, which she applied to what seems like a reliably intermittent gig doing color cover illustrations for This Week magazine, a tabloid-format newspaper supplement with significant market presence. 

Leif Peng reports that "she was born in West Haven, Connecticut in 1921. She studied at the Franklin School of Professional Arts on a scholarship for three years. For her work Oliver received the Klein and Grumbacher awards, the Stroud prize, was honoured by the Audubon Artists, the American Watercolor Society, was awarded the medal of Honor from the National Association of Women Artists."

I am grateful to have the foregoing text. It's important to say that while awards of the kind listed above can be grasped as facts, they are not necessarily important ones. Jane Oliver achieved a certain measure of professional recognition, but not in what is called "the Art World." 

She likely operated on the fringes of the editorial illustration market. Her work betrays a designer's plastic sense of space and a modernist sensibility. It's quite lovely and–for lack of a better word–friendlyShe could easily have designed fabrics and furnishings, or sold her work in consumer-oriented galleries. That's information we don't have, however. 

We found Oliver's tear sheets in a bulging, undifferentiated "O" folder in the Reed collection. Such alphabetic containers are common in the ancient filing cabinets that came to MGHL. Presumably they awaited filing by name, but the day never came (at least until now). Many finds wait within them. I had never heard of Jane Oliver before coming upon these pages, am I am very glad to have made her acquaintance, so to speak. 

In the event that anyone comes across this page with more knowledge of Jane Oliver's career or professional circumstances, we would welcome contact! 

Jane Oliver, cover illustration for This Week Magazine. December 5, 1954.

Jane Oliver, Interior illustration for Collier's Weekly Magazine.

Jane Oliver, Interior illustration for This Week Magazine. July 1954.

Jane Oliver. Interior Illustration for This Week Magazine. May 1954.

Jane Oliver, Print ad for Sheraton Hotels.

Jane Oliver, "Side of Store, Key West". Watercolor. American Artist Magazine. January 1957.

Jane Oliver. Holiday Card. Undated.