I’ve often said if I could be magically transported back in time, it would be to the Edwardian era. I love the clothes and most everything about that time (including the fact indoor plumbing was starting to show up in many homes. A must for this would-be time traveler!).
One of the artists I’ve admired who spent twenty years doing pen and ink drawings that captured what he referred to as the beauty of the American woman was Charles Dana Gibson.
His Gibson girl drawings drew immediate interest and have remained popular more than a hundred years later.
Gibson is credited with saying:
“I’ll tell you how I got what you have called the ‘Gibson Girl.’ I saw her on the streets, I saw her at the theatres, I saw her in the churches. I saw her everywhere and doing everything. I saw her idling on Fifth Avenue and at work behind the counters of the stores … I haven’t really created a distinctive type, the nation made the type. What Zangwill calls the ‘Melting Pot of Races’ has resulted in a certain character; why should it not also have turned out a certain type of face? … There isn’t any ‘Gibson Girl,’ but there are many thousands of American girls, and for that let us all thank God.”
Due to my fascination with Gibson drawings and the fact I have the most awesome friends, I recently came into possession of this wondrous book. (Thank you, Kris! I truly love it and will cherish this for years to come!)
The first of two books that compiled dozens of Gibson’s drawings, the book was published back in 1907.
The classic Gibson girl was from upper middle class society, always perfectly dressed in the latest fashionable attire appropriate for the place and time of day. She was also more athletic inclined and might be found cycling through a park. Additionally, the Gibson girl was forward thinking, prepared to enter the workplace or attend college.
The Gibson girl is shown with refined beauty while in spirit she was calm, independent, confident, and sought personal fulfillment. Gibson often showed her as an equal to men and sometime as a teasing companion.
Sometimes his drawings included a puzzle to solve, like this one.
Sometimes they pointed a finger, like “Wireless Telegraphy.”
Occasionally, they were political in nature or drove home an important point, such as “Two Blind Women.”
Mostly, they are just fun and lovely and provide a fabulous reminder of an all but forgotten era.
I’m sure this book will provide some amazing inspiration for future historical stories!