Mabel Lucie Attwell


Artist Biography:

For over 50 years, Mabel Lucie Attwell’s pictures of chubby babies and mischievous toddlers were the most familiar and appealing images of childhood. Her work appeared in an enormous diversity of media including numerous books, posters, magazines, calendars, greetings cards and postcards, and inspired a range of dolls and other toys. She was born in June 1879 in Mile End, London, the ninth of ten children. Although there were obviously happy memories of her family life, which is widely recognised in her work, she was a self-conscious and shy child who sought refuge in her imagination. Mabel Lucie Attwell attended St Martin’s School of Art and, upon leaving, took up a series of commissions from the book publishers W & R Chambers. Commercial firms quickly discovered that she had brand appeal and her images advertised many leading products of the day, including a series for London Underground. After signing up with the agents Francis and Mills she received commissions for posters and books and began her long association with Valentine & Sons, for whom she designed postcards, calendars, greetings cards, plaques and jigsaws until the end of her working life. Her art is drawn directly from her narrow but closely observed experience of life and never strays beyond what is known; it is from her own class and her own time and is presented with the entertaining skill of a good illustrator. Motherhood continued to be the inspirational strength of her life and career. She died in 1964.

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