The Rose O’Neill Collection contains original artwork published in Good Housekeeping and Cosmopolitan. The original works of art feature mostly children and Kewpies. The collection also contains published materials in the format of books, proofs, and tear sheets.
A successful cartoonist and commercial illustrator, Rose O’Neill (1874–1944) was at one time the best-known and highest-paid female commercial illustrator in the United States industry.
O’Neill was raised in Nebraska and came to New York City as a teen to pursue art. O’Neill built a successful career as a magazine and book illustrator. Her illustrations, which frequently focused on women and fashion, often appeared in Ladies’ Home Journal, Harper’s, Good Housekeeping, and Life.
A series of cartoons O’Neill drew for Ladies’ Home Journal in 1909 featured the cherub-inspired Kewpie character, which gave rise to the famous Kewpie doll. Before Mickey Mouse came on the scene, Kewpie was perhaps the best-known cartoon figure in America.
In addition to illustration, O’Neill worked in the medium of sculpture and wrote fiction and poetry. Rose O’Neill was also very active in the women’s suffrage movement.
All WU faculty, students, and staff can access this collection by creating an account or logging in to Artstor. Those users outside of the university can contact Special Collections staff for access privileges.
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