Sunday, May 17, 2015

E.A. Voss sketches from the Jean Woodcock collection

Always a pleasure to hear from Mark Woodcock, who has been organizing his late mother's collection of original artwork from the Merrill archives. These sketches by the artist E.A. Voss were done in the 1950s for books that were never produced.

The Cotsen Children's Library at Princeton University has an interesting article by Andrea Immel on the artist Elizabeth Anne Voss (1925-1969):
Voss’s fans have speculated that there were two sisters working for Merrill at the same time because covers in the same style are signed “E. Voss,” “E. A. Voss,” “B. Gartrell,” “Betty Gartrell,” and “Elizabeth Gartrell.”  
Thanks to a recent gift of a small group of covers and artwork by Voss from the late 1950s and early 1960s from her husband Donald H. Voss [Princeton]’44, *49, I’ve pieced together some information about Betty Anne, as she was known.  She was the daughter of Nancy Reynolds and the engineer Robert D. Gartrell, who is famous in horticultural circles for the Robin Hill Azaleas, a group of hybrids he developed while living in New Jersey.  One cultivar was named after his artist-daughter.   Before her marriage to Donald Voss in 1952, Betty Anne signed her work with her maiden name Gartrell.
Covers in the Voss donation suggest that cover designs signed “Gartrell” or “Voss” could be in simultaneous circulation for some years, so it’s no wonder  people have assumed that E. A. Voss and B. Gartrell were two people. This confusion might have been cleared up much sooner if Voss had illustrated picture books instead of covers, in which case it’s more likely that she would have been the subject of articles in standard reference sources.   
The copies of Little Miss Christmas and Santa and Little Miss Christmas and Holly-Belle in the Voss donation suggest that Merrill must have asked her to redo the cover paintings periodically to keep them fresh. Voss designed new gowns and accessories,  added and subtracted figures, which necessitated rearranging the composition, etc. The typefaces and their layout could vary significantly from cover to cover, although at first glance they look rather similar.

I've quoted from most of the article, but go to the Cotsen site for more information and more images of this beloved artist's work. Excellent research for those of us fascinated by the life and work of earlier paper doll artists. And I love that the first line in the article refers to Paper Goodies from Judy's Place!


  1. Love seeing artwork like this! Thanks so much for sharing

  2. Thanks Linda. I always assumed that B Gartrell and EA Voss were the same person and also assumed that Gartrell was her maiden name.