Glorious Flights: The Illustration Art of Alice and Martin Provensen

Glorious Flights: The Illustration Art of Alice and Martin Provensen was exhibited at the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature (NCCIL) in the fall of 2015. This exhibition curated by Leonard Marcus, one of the world's leading writers about children's books and the people who create them, features original art from the award-winning husband-wife team of Alice and Martin Provensen. Artwork included in this exhibition represents twenty-four books illustrated by Alice and Martin Provensen, including their Caldecott medal award winning book, The Glorious Flight: Across the Channel with Louis Blériot, and the Caldecott honor book, A Visit to William Blake’s Inn.

The Provensens first made their mark as the illustrators of several Little Golden Books. These books included Margaret Wise Brown’s The Color Kittens and larger-scale Golden Book volumes such as Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses. The couple was known from the start for their sprightly wit and elegant contemporary design sense. Over the years, their work diversified as the couple pursued their love of historical research, world travel, and artistic self-reinvention. No project was too big or daunting for them. They often chose the road less traveled by crafting intimate, sketch-book-style picture books like The Year at Maple Hill Farm, which traced life in the country, and chronicling little-known true stories, such as in The Glorious Flight: Across the Channel with Louis Blériot. It was for the latter that they won the 1984 Caldecott Medal. After Martin Provensen died, Alice carried on, creating an astonishing array of new work. These new books ranged from The Buck Stops Here to the cozily charming A Day in the Life of Murphy.

This exhibition is grouped into five sections: Starting out, which includes selections from The Color Kittens (1949), Katie the Kitten (1949), and The Fat Little Policeman (1950); Timeless Tales, which includes selections from A Child's Garden of Verses (1951), The Iliad and the Odyssey (1956), The Golden Treasury of Myths and Legends (1959), Aesop's Fables (1965), and Tales from the Ballet (1968); History on Parade, which includes selections from The Charge of Light Brigade (1964), The Glorious Flight (1983), and Voyage of the Ludgate Hill (1987); Town and Country, which includes selections from Our Animal Friends (1974), The Year at Maple Hill Farm (1978), An Owl and Three Pussycats (1981), Town and Country (1984), and Shaker Lane (1987); and Alice Provensen on Her Own, which includes selections from The Buck Stops Here (1990), Punch in New York (1991), My Fellow Americans (1995), Day in the Life of Murphy (2003), and Klondike Gold (2005).