Frances Brundage
I know of no more proficient and prolific illustrator as Frances Brundage whose career spans 65 years and over 200 books. Her wide-eyed Victorian children epitomized fin-de-siecle Americana and graced all household goods, from flue-covers to calendars.

Childhood and Education

Frances Isabelle Lockwood was born to Rembrandt Lockwood and Sarah Ursula Despeaux on June 28, 1854 in Newark, New Jersey. Frances was educated in art by her father who painted church murals, portraits, and miniatures. He was also an architect and a wood engraver. Her training served her well because at the age of 17 her father left the family and required her to start earning a living.

Professional Career

Her first professional sale was to Louisa May Alcott for a sketch illustrating one of the author’s poems. She went on to illustrate for books, paper dolls, postcards, valentines, prints, trade cards, calendars, etc. Many of the valentines were die-cut and highly collectable today. Sometimes images from her books were later published as postcards.

Frances married another artist, William Tyson Brundage, in 1886. Their only child, Mary Frances Brundage, died when she was only 17 months old in 1891. Occasionally, William and Frances would collaborate on a project. The couple lived in Washington D.C. and summered at Cape Ann in Massachusetts. Later, they relocated to Brooklyn, New York.

By this time, Brundage was working for the British publisher Raphael Tuck & Sons, specializing in pristine Victorian children. Today, these books are highly sought after by collectors. By 1910, she had started working for the New York publisher Samuel Gabriel Company, and later, Saalfield publisher of Akron, Ohio. Although the bulk of her work was published by these three publishers, she also worked for Stecher Lithographic Company, DeWolfe, Fiske & Company, Fred A. Stokes, Charles E. Graham & Company, E.P. Dutton, and Hayes Co. 

William died in 1923 and Frances on March 28, 1937 at the age of 82 years old. 

Influences & Style

One of Brundage’s contemporaries was Kate Greenaway. While Greenaway’s clothing styles were of her own imagination and Brundage’s were not, they both hark back to an earlier romantic time.  One obvious difference was the printing processes used to publish their work—Greenaway’s work was printed by the complex color-engraving method by Edmund Evans; Brundage’s by the chromolithography method.

Brundage’s work probably more closely resembles that of her contemporaries, Maud Humphrey and Ida Waugh. Both were equally talented, though less prolific, illustrators. Their work is reminiscent of Brundage’s earlier work, pictures of pretty children for adults to enjoy, not necessarily for a child’s pleasure.

Brundage’s children are most notable for and easily identified by their large eyes. In their excellent book, A Bit of Brundage, Sarah Steier and Donna Braun suggest that one of Brundage’s specialties was illustrating children of ethnic backgrounds. While it is true that she depicted many ethnic children, they were generally caricatures, stereotypical, or colored versions of Caucasian children, though it’s important to remember that this was the norm for this time period.

Raison d’Être

It’s impossible to know what was in the mind of Frances Brundage but it obvious that she started her career early on due to necessity. Marrying relatively late in life, why did she not give up her career, settle down and have a family as was the custom of the day? During her late 60’s she produced up to 20 books a year. This certainly speaks of her speed and proficiency, but it must also say something of her love for her profession. 

Children's Books Illustrated by Frances Brundage

More Images by Frances Brundage

Little Red Riding Hood,
Raphael Tuck, n.d.
Little Bright Eyes,
Raphael Tuck, n.d.
Our Little Men and
Maidens, Ernest Nister,
Tales from Tennyson,
Raphael Tuck, n.d.
Tales from Tennyson,
Raphael Tuck, n.d.
Houfe, Simon, The Dictionary of 19th Century British Book Illustrators, Suffolk, Antique Collector's Club, 1996.
Steier, Sarah and Braun, Donna, A Bit of Brundage: The Illustration Art of Frances Brundage, Atglen, PA, Schiffer Publishing, 1999.
© 2000–2002 Denise Ortakales
All Illustrations are copyright by their respective owners.
This page last updated on 24 August 2002.

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