The Art of Alice and Martin Provensen

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Pub Date 01 Mar 2022 | Archive Date 28 Feb 2022
Chronicle Books, Chronicle Chroma

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Description

The Art of Alice and Martin Provensen is the first-ever monograph on this beloved midcentury husband-and-wife illustration team. This award-winning pair created more than 40 beloved children's books over the span of seven decades, many of which appeared on the New York Times Best Illustrated Books of the Year lists. From early favorites for Golden Books such as The Color Kittens by Margaret Wise Brown, 1949, to their Caldecott-winning title The Glorious Flight: Across the Channel with Louis Bleriot, 1983, the Provensens' books inspired generations of young readers. Original paintings for their beloved classics such as A Child’s Garden of Verses, 1951, The Iliad and the Odyssey, 1959, Myths and Legends, 1960 and many others, are beautifully reproduced and included here.

This comprehensive volume showcases hundreds of their well-known illustrations, as well as many never-before-seen paintings, drawings, and exquisite sketchbooks from their travels around the world. An interview with their daughter Karen Provensen Mitchell illuminates their life and career and includes many personal photographs, quotes, speeches, and memorabilia from their archive. An introduction by Leonard S. Marcus, a leading historian in children’s literature, underscores the Provensen’s importance and influence as illustrators and authors. Additionally, noted publisher and close family friend Robert Gottlieb, provides a personal essay that shares many of his memories with this cherished couple.

The Provensens' colorful, inimitable artwork is a treasure trove that has influenced generations of children, designers, illustrators, historians, and all who cherish classic children's books. 

The Art of Alice and Martin Provensen is the first-ever monograph on this beloved midcentury husband-and-wife illustration team. This award-winning pair created more than 40 beloved children's books...


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EDITION Hardcover
ISBN 9781797209586
PRICE $35.00 (USD)

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Average rating from 33 members


Featured Reviews

Oh, how I adore this precious book. The story of a devoted couple, a loving family, an authentically genuine life, who were also brilliant artists.

I laughed, I cried, I traveled around the world through their eyes. I studied the photos of of the family on their sweet farm, I read the snippets and I savored the stunningly beautiful illustrations. What a deeply profound memento that Karen Provensen now has to celebrate the lives of her doting, incredibly talented parents, every, single day. Just pure magic. Can someone please pass me a box tissues?

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Thank you for the EArc. The illustrations in this book were stunning and the story poignant. I was expecting something different, I guess I assumed I would know the works but I didn’t.it didn’t take away from the beauty of the book it just wasn’t something I was able to get too into.

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The Art of Alice and Martin Provensen is a chronicle of the long collaboration between the Provensens and a catalog of their work. Their daughter, Karen, provides biographical information on the pair in the form of an interview, and their speeches for the ALA and Caldecott Award are included. A comprehensive, chronological inventory of their illustrations follows a collection of photos and images from their sketchbooks. Their illustrations are charming, magical, and timeless and the volume of their beautiful illustrations included here is staggering. Enough of their work is included to make their stylistic progressions easy to appreciate, and it's simply marvelous to be able to enjoy and compare so much of their work. This would be a wonderful addition to any collection that includes illustration and art books or would make an engaging coffee table book.

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When I was a little girl in the 1950s, Mom would bring home a Little Golden Book from her grocery store trips. Before I could read, I spent hours with these books. The book illustrations were my introduction to the visual arts. I had my favorite artists even then. And I am very excited to have the chance to preview this new volume on the art of Alice and Martin Provensen. I remember their Golden Book illustrations from such classics as A Child’s Garden of Verses, The Animal Fair, and The Color Kittens. I had the Fireside Book of Folk Songs once, too.

Because my vast childhood collection of children’s books disappeared when I went to college, I created a new collection of vintage Golden Books to share with our son, including The Little Fat Policeman. I never forgot the story of the woman who was driving too fast because of the music she was listening to in her car!

The Art of Alice and Martin Provenson is a marvelous retrospective that includes their art from the 1949 The Fireside Cookbook to Alice’s 2005 Klondike Gold. Also included is a Conversation with Karen Provensen Mitchell, the artists’ daughter, with memories of her idyllic childhood growing up on Maple Hill Farm and insights into her parents’ personalities, marriage, and work.

There a pages of photographs of the artists at home on Maple Hill Farm, at work in their studio, and traveling abroad. I loved seeing their sketchbooks from their European vacation. “We never used a camera to record our impressions but have carried our sketchbooks around the world,” their are quoted as saying. Another interesting section includes Martin’s paintings in the style of his favorite artists, including Corot, Picasso, Braque, and Modigliani.

The Provensens won the Caldicott Award and their acceptance speech is included, as well as an address to the American Library Association.

Leonard S. Marcus contributes an essay, Two Artists, One Art. About their 1951 A Child’s Garden of Verses, he notes the book already had been illustrated with such notables as Tasha Tudor and Jessie Willcox Smith and they needed to “put their own stamp” on it. They did a marvelous job!

Robert Gottlieb offers A Very Personal Memory of Alice and Martin, having spent many Christmases at the farm.

It’s a beautiful volume.

I received access to a free ebook by the publisher through NetGalley. My review is fair and unbiased.

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What a stunning book! I was not familiar with the art of Alice and Martin Provensen but after reading this book, with its pages of charming, adorable illustrations, I'm eager to look at their whole library. I enjoyed seeing some of their reference material and how it became art (I would have liked to see more of this actually). This book would make a beautiful gift to any children's book lover as well as those who admire folk art. I could frame most every page. Just beautiful. I hope that the paper is of good quality to stand up to these magical images. I can't wait to read the actual books now! Bravo!

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5 stars!!!!! Alice and Martin Provensen were an illustration duo from heaven. This loving husband and wife were a team for years, illustrating their beautiful books while living and working together on a farm.

This book is a moving memoir and tribute to the illustrators and I was in tears reading this book and looking at the photos and their illustrations. Incredible!

I would absolutely purchase this book for my children’s art class library, and to discuss illustration and the power of art as a career with my kids.

Thank you to NetGalley and Chronicle Books for providing me a free copy for my honest opinions.

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Ohhh this book!! What a joy to read and peruse.

I wasn't familiar with the Provensens by name, but I'm sure I'd seen their artwork before--being the child of the 80s (ergo, avid Little Golden Books and Caldecott Medal-winning-book reader) that I am. :D I _so_ enjoyed this introduction to them as artists, and to their works and approach to illustration. They were true collaborators in every sense and in every arena of life, not just artwork/their careers. Alice Provensen said at one point, "There is a great sense of support in having someone beside you whose skill and judgement you trust. ... Since we are not competing with each other but rather are working toward the same goal, we are delighted if one of us can paint a better picture" (eARC page 21). Can you imagine if more of us saw each other-- whether spouse, colleague, or friend--like this? Not as colleagues bot as collaborators or even simply heading similar directions?

The Provensens also made a point of letting the books they illustrated drive their style, not the other way around. "Martin and I always sought to enhance the spirit of the book, and to reflect the intention of the author as far as we understood it," Alice said (eARC page 23). And finally, Alice's perseverance after Martin's death really struck me. "After my father died," wrote daughter Karen, "my mother somehow persevered. I remember her saying that she had a choice to either crawl in a closet and die ... or to try and put her best foot forward. So she forced herself to look outward, determined to find a way to go on" (eARC page 30). Alice lived 21 years after Martin died; I'd say she succeeded in finding the way!

_The Art of Alice and Martin Provensen_ includes a wide variety of their art--I was frankly (and very pleasantly) shocked. Talk about a great introduction! Some styles I enjoyed more than others, most notably _The Fireside Cook Book_ and _A Child's Garden of Verses_. I'm excited to revisit these and others from my childhood with a new eye and appreciation for the illustrations!

I received an eARC of the book from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

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What an unexpected delight. This book celebrates Alice and Martin Provensen. Working together they illustrated and created more than 40 children's books. I still have some of the Golden Books they illustrated tucked away in my basement. They drew the original Tony the Tiger for Kellogg's, (Sadly for them it was a side one-time commission.) The book shares their history and meeting as told by their daughter. Quotes from interviews and even includes their Caldecott acceptance speech. I loved looking at photos of their travels in Europe and their country home of Maple Hill Farm. They lived surround by ducks, chickens, dogs and horses. I imagine that added to their inspiration in their drawings. The real draw of the book is the pages and pages of their illustrations. Both artists in their own right they worked on everything together. I remember visiting the Chicago Art Institute and seeing an exhibit of original illustrations from children's books and loved that that kind of art is curated and celebrated. This is for someone who loves drawing and art. Or those that remember the Provensen's books. Thank you to NetGalley and Chronicle Books for a temporary eARC in exchange for an honest review.

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I thought this book was going to be a simple book but was pleasantly surprised to see it filled with a long interview/biography via the Provensen's daughter. I really enjoyed reading about their life on the farm and seeing all of the lovely illustrations. I didn't know these artists by name, but it turns out that as a kid I had a beloved book illustrated by them (The Fuzzy Duckling) given to me by my grandmother! Glad to read about their life and seemingly nice marriage filled with love and art immortalized in a lovely book with the help of their daughter.

Thank you to netgalley for a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

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If you like Richard Scarry, you might like this.
If you like old timey childrens book illustrations, you might like this.
I find the art simply charming and the artists lead fascinating lives.

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"The Art of Alice and Martin Provensen is the first-ever monograph on this beloved midcentury husband-and-wife illustration team. This award-winning pair created more than 40 beloved children's books over the span of seven decades, many of which appeared on the New York Times Best Illustrated Books of the Year lists. From early favorites for Golden Books such as The Color Kittens by Margaret Wise Brown, 1949, to their Caldecott-winning title The Glorious Flight: Across the Channel with Louis Bleriot, 1983, the Provensens' books inspired generations of young readers. Original paintings for their beloved classics such as A Child's Garden of Verses, 1951, The Iliad and the Odyssey, 1959, Myths and Legends, 1960 and many others, are beautifully reproduced and included here.

This comprehensive volume showcases hundreds of their well-known illustrations, as well as many never-before-seen paintings, drawings, and exquisite sketchbooks from their travels around the world. An interview with their daughter Karen Provensen Mitchell illuminates their life and career and includes many personal photographs, quotes, speeches, and memorabilia from their archive. An introduction by Leonard S. Marcus, a leading historian in children's literature, underscores the Provensen's importance and influence as illustrators and authors. Additionally, noted publisher and close family friend Robert Gottlieb, provides a personal essay that shares many of his memories with this cherished couple.

The Provensens' colorful, inimitable artwork is a treasure trove that has influenced generations of children, designers, illustrators, historians, and all who cherish classic children's books."

If you were lucky enough to grow up in a house where your parents were fans of Alice and Martin Provensen and read The Year at Maple Hill Farm over and over again, well, you need this book. If you've never heart of the Provensens, you REALLY need this book.

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Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley
The Provensens were illustrators of various children’s books. Their names might not be instantly recognizable to most readers, but the chances are that you or someone you are related to has read one of the books that they have illustrated. They worked on Little Golden Books among others.
The book focuses mostly on the artwork, so it is not a straight biography, more a collection of the illustrations. This does not mean, however, that the introductory material is lacking. The book starts with an interview with the Provensens’ daughter, Karen Provensen Mitchell. Mitchell gives not only an overview of her parents’ lives, including a section in Alice Provensen’s own words. There are details about the family’s experience on the farm. Also included are two speeches from the Provensens’ themselves. There essays from people including Robert Gottlib who was a family friend.
Of course, most readers are going to come to this book for the art.
The illustrations are magnificent. While the focus is on the illustration work, the travel sketchbooks of the couple are reproduced in the introduction as well as Martin Provensen’s studies of various famous paintings. These are particularly nice to see because the styles are slightly different thereby showing the couples’ range. Additionally, the travel sketches allow you to see via their eyes. The inclusion of these works is a wonderful touch.
The illustrations themselves include the Provensens’ work on titles including various fairy tales as well as the Iliad and the Odyssey and Aesop. The illustration of various animals are the right combination of cute and realistic. There are big and fluffy wolfhound like dogs, horse of various of kinds, and nice-looking birds.
The illustrations are not just the various animal and fairy tale books but also include those from Blake’s Inn.
If you are interested in children’s literature or art, this book is worth reading.

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I knew nothing about this married couple who illustrated and sometimes wrote children's books before I was even born. I was drawn to the cover of this book in childlike wonder. I love children's illustrations, and learning that this couple illustrated some of the iconic "Golden Books" read by children prompted me to delve further.

The book was lovingly created by their daughter, Karen Provensen Mitchell, whom they adopted in 1959. The couple met when they were both working in animation at Walter Lantz Productions studios in Los Angeles. Martin had previously worked at Disney. After they got married they purchased a farm where they fashioned a studio in an adjacent garage. They decided to become children's book illustrators, finding much satisfaction and success in this field. They famously would never reveal who actually created the pictures or words, adding both their names to each project. They travelled all over the world, not taking pictures with a camera, but finding it much more important to document what they saw on sketch pads. Their drawings from these jaunts were brilliant and really captured the flavor of each locale.

The book starts with an in depth interview with the daughter, who lends a clear, loving, detailed perspective of her parents' life and career. There are photographs of Alice and Martin on the farm working in their studio, travelling, and posing with their daughter. There is also a wonderful speech from when they accepted a book award, an article on the couple and their work published decades ago, and a statement from a man who bought some of their artwork and ultimately became their close friend. I also enjoyed the end of the book where the daughter explained how she was approached to do this book on multiple occasions, and what the work involved when she finally decided to do it. It involved unframing lots of artwork and having it photographed, and also hunting down people who owned other artwork that had been sold to get permission/access to have it photographed. Aside from these various writings to round out the story of this creative force of a couple, the book (thankfully) is mostly comprised of pages and pages of their delightful, enchanting illustrations. I don't specifically recall having seen any of these before, but they still transported me back to my childhood and love of books growing up. In fact, in their speech they celebrate the importance of the library and reading in their lives, a feeling I heartily share. As a hardcover book, this would be a lovely gift for someone who enjoys the nostalgia and history of children's illustrations.

Thank you to Chronicle Books for providing an advance reader copy via NetGalley.

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As someone who uses Procreate to create my own illustrations, I'm still working on finding my own artistic "style." Lately, I've been inspired by artists like Mary Blair as well as Alice and Martin Provensen. I was delighted to review this E-ARC from NetGalley and the pages are filled with beautiful brightly colored bustling cityscapes and crowded scenes. Each piece of artwork is so detailed and filled with interesting line work and characters. I found myself inspecting and re-inspecting the illustrations incase I missed anything the first few times. I love how the art demands your eyes to pay attention. There is also a charming interview with their daughter Karen Provensen and I nearly keeled over from crying to hear that she had her parents ashes mixed with their favorite brushes and scattered them underneath their tree. My heart also broke hearing how Alice approached art after Martin's passing. After losing a long time collaborator, I can only imagine how unsettling and incomplete her artwork felt to her.

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This title includes a lengthy conversation with the daughter of the illustrators, two of their speeches, of which one was a Caldecott Medal Acceptance, an introduction and forward, photos of the couple, and…the illustrations. These go from 1951 for A Child’s Garden of Verses all the way to 2005’s Klondike Gold.

This book is completely delightful. The illustrations that this couple made are engaging and often whimsical. They often brought smiles to my face. This is a book that readers will enjoy visiting time and again.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher. All opinions are my own.

This book will be published on 01 Mar 2022.

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Absolutely loved this book! It is gorgeous: I could return to it many times just to enjoy the artwork alone. Paired with the story of this husband and wife duo, it was even better. What a beautiful way to showcase these two talented artists and make sure their story is remembered by children for years to come. Highly recommend for libraries, schools, and homes!

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I got an advance copy of this book through NetGalley.
I was attracted to its cover, and inside is a chronicle of their life-time work. It also includes an interview of their daughter, which gives insights to for their works as well.
Alice and Martin Provensen are illustrators of children's books in US, publishing numerous books mainly in 1950-70s. Their works include illustrations for children's books to Homer's Odyssey and Shakespeare. It was great to see many of their works in sequence, and admire their style. There is something comforting and warm in their art, and I really liked this book.
This would be a great coffee table book, and I would like to acquire a physical copy myself.

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Gorgeous book! I can't wait to buy a physical copy and use the artwork in a playroom. There is such a nostalgic, whimsical tough to these illustrations.

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Wow, what a gorgeous book! I absolutely loved getting to see the different styles of Alice & Martin's work throughout the years. The colors were stunning and variation in style was incredibly interesting. Everything from political art of cookbooks (the 1949 cookbook was actually my favorite!). I also loved getting to read so many stories from the family's life. It really gave insight into what they were going through when creating their art. This would make such a beautiful gift for anyone who is a lover of Alice & Martin Provensen's art, or any art or illustration lover in general. Loved it!

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A beautiful biography of the seminal children's book illustrator-duo of the mid- to late-20th century. Their artworks graced dozens of children's books spanning a multitude of genres. The book is comprised of an interview with the couple's daughter, award acceptance speeches, and a selection of their artworks from books published between 1949 and 2005. About 2/3rds of the book is filled with photographs and artworks of the Provensens. A trip down memory lane for people that grew up with their artworks in their children's books or yore and an interesting study in the evolution of art style. Reread value as a coffee table book.

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A big thank you to NetGalley and Chronicle Books/Chronicle Chroma for the eARC. I am voluntarily reviewing this book. This was an unusual book for me. It is a biography (written by the daughter), as well as a children's book, and art book. The illustrations were beautiful. I had never heard of this famous couple. So it was an unexpected delight. Very well traveled, and very interesting. 4 stars

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Each page of this book is a another memory from childhood reading. Loved the progression of the artwork through the decades.

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This is a beautiful book that would be great to read in physical form (as opposed to e-book). I loved reading about the background of the artists Alice and Martin Provensen and perusing their whimsical and lovely artwork.

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Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

The Art of Alice and Martin Provensen is a stunning collection of artwork and interviews about the husband-and-wife illustrating team. If you have read children's books in the 1900's, you've probably come across their situations. In fact, while reading this book, I found out that they did the illustrations for one of my favorite children's books, The Color Kittens.

Overall, The Art of Alice and Martin Provensen is an amazing coffee table book that will appeal to illustration-lovers everywhere. One highlight of this book are the amazing full-color illustrations that are placed throughout the book. I am so impressed by this collection, and it would make the perfect gift for the children's picture book lover in your life. If you're intrigued by the description, I highly recommend that you check out this book when it comes out in March!

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This beautiful book depicting the illustrations of Alice and Martin Provensen shows the progression of their style and experimental drawings over the years. Primarily children's book illustrators, the two artists expanded their work into magazines and other venues. The autobiography of the authors is detailed and explanatory. and the art in every case is delightful! --A wonderful gift book no matter the age.

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Thank you to NetGalley and Chronicle Books for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.

This would make a wonderful addition to the coffee table or bookshelf of any children's book illustration fan. I found myself surprised by how many of the illustrations I recognized from the books I read at home, school, and the library growing up. I enjoyed reading about the Provensens' backgrounds and family life and seeing their paintings and travel sketches in addition to the illustrations.

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