Jessie Willcox Smith: Illustrations of Motherhood

Jessie Willcox Smith was an American illustrator famous for her heartwarming depictions of children and motherhood. Whether you are a fan of vintage art or simply appreciate the timeless appeal of mother and child imagery, these printables will delight and inspire you.

Jessie Willcox Smith illustration of a mother reading fairy tales on a hammock with her two small children.

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Her illustrations, which appeared in magazines and books in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, captured the innocence and beauty of childhood. As well as the tenderness and devotion of motherhood.

In this post, we will explore some of Smith’s most iconic illustrations of motherhood and provide free printables that you can use to add a touch of nostalgia and warmth to your home decor.

Illustrations of Motherhood: The Beauty & Charm of Everyday

Jessie Willcox Smith’s portraits of mothers and children are the perfect art for Mother’s Day. Because they capture the essence of the mother-child relationship in a way that is both timeless and universal.

Her illustrations depict the tenderness, love, and care that mothers provide to their children. As well as the joy and innocence that children bring to their mothers’ lives.

Jessie Willcox Smith's illustration of a mother helping her daughter get dressed in the morning.
Jessie Willcox Smith's illustration of a mother with her son in the garden.

Smith’s illustrations of mothers and children often show everyday scenes, such as a mother reading a storybook to her child, or a mother and child walking together in a garden.

These simple yet profound moments are what make the bond between mother and child so special. And Smith’s illustrations capture them with an unparalleled sense of warmth and nostalgia.

By incorporating Smith’s illustrations into your Mother’s Day celebrations, you can pay tribute to the importance of motherhood and the love that mothers give to their children.

Jessie Willcox Smith's illustration of a mother with her son in the garden.

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Decorate Your Home with this Timeless Art & More!

You can use her artwork to decorate your home, but here are a few other great ideas to use these illustrations beyond that as well.

Ways to Use these Illustrations of Motherhood

You can use her artwork to decorate your home, but here are a few other great ideas to use these illustrations beyond that as well.

  • Wall Art – Print out your favorite illustrations and frame them to decorate your home. A simply beautiful and timeless addition to any room.
  • Greeting Cards – Print the illustrations onto cardstock and use them to create custom greeting cards for Mother’s Day or any occasion.
  • Scrapbooking – Use the illustrations as embellishments for your scrapbooking pages to create a beautiful tribute to motherhood.
  • Nursery Decor – These illustrations would be perfect for a baby’s nursery. Print, frame them, and create a warm and welcoming space for your little one.
  • Gift Tags – Print the illustrations onto cardstock and use them as gift tags for presents for the special moms in your life.
  • Stationery – Print the illustrations onto notecards or stationery for a personal touch when sending letters or notes to loved ones.

So, whether you’re printing for a project or simply appreciating her beautiful illustrations, Jessie Willcox Smith’s portraits of mothers and children are a perfect way to honor the special bond between mother and child.

Download and Print Jessie Willcox Smith’s Illustrated Printables

I fell in love with these illustrations for their obvious charm, but also the celebration of the simple moments of Motherhood. It is my pleasure to share them with you today as a part of my exclusive subscriber library!

A series of Six illustrations by Jessie Willcox Smith of scenes of motherhood.

illustrations of Motherhood by

Jessie Willcox Smith

This printable is for personal use only. However, feel free to share this post with friends and family so they can have these amazing timeless illustrations, too! The download will come with all 7 charming illustrations. 6 in a Series sized 5×7″ (approx.) and 1 sized at 8 1/2″ x 11 “.

These printables are available as a free download in the Wonderland Subscriber Library. By simply entering your email address and subscribing you get full access. Please remember these are for personal use only.

A Short Biography of Illustrator Jessie Willcox Smith

A mother with eight children climbing up onto her. An illustration by Jessie Willcox Smith.

Jessie Willcox Smith (1863-1935)

A remarkable figure of American Romanticism and Impressionism.

Jessie Willcox Smith was an American illustrator who gained widespread recognition for her work, especially in children’s books.

According to the National Museum of American Illustration, Smith is the “greatest children’s book illustrator”. Jessie’s work was often comparable to Mary Cassatt‘s with her endearing portrayal of children.

Her illustrations of Mother Goose’s nursery rhymes are some of the most famous and beloved illustrations of all time. Smith’s book illustrations are famous for their full color and numerous quantities.

The Golden Age of American Illustration

She was a member of the Red Rose Girls along with Violet Oakley and Elizabeth Shippen Green. Smith was the eldest and most even-keeled of the trio, who shared a studio space in downtown Philadelphia before moving to the old Red Rose Inn Estate in Villanova, where they lived and worked for many years. 

Those three women artists’ bodies of work would become the cornerstone of the Golden Age of American illustration.

Smith studied at the Drexel Institute in New York under the tutelage of Howard Pyle. She was considered one of the most prominent female illustrators of her time. Her illustrations of classic nursery rhymes such as “Little Miss Muffet” and “Old King Cole” remain popular today.

Mother reading fairytales with two children sitting on a hammock.
Mother playing checkers with Two children, illustration by Jessie Willcox Smith.

The Artist with the Longest Continuous Run

Her work was so popular that it was featured on magazine covers. As well as many popular author’s children’s books. You might have heard of some of the publications Smith’s work was featured in. Magazines like Good Housekeeping Magazine, Ladies Home Journal, as well as Women’s Home Companion.

In fact, She graced every printed cover of Good Housekeeping from December 1917 through April 1933. Jessie created a total of 184 illustrations of family scenes for the magazine. Which won her the title of the artist with the longest continuous run of illustrated magazine covers.

She also created illustrations for the book “Little Women” and worked on “The Child’s Garden of Verses.” Many of Smith’s illustrations are perfect keepsakes for young children.

Smith’s Little Mother Goose is Classic to this Day

Her illustrated collection of Mother Goose nursery rhymes is a timeless classic and a must-have for any children’s book collection.

The first edition of Smith’s “Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes” included pictorial endpapers and featured less familiar rhymes as well as the better-known ones. The large oblong book with a front cover that features a little lamb and an old woman is a cherished addition to any collection.

Mother feeding her child on her lap sitting on a porch.

And her work has been reproduced in a variety of formats, including paper prints, canvas prints, and digital downloads. Her illustrations are a popular choice for decorating children’s rooms or nurseries.

Smith’s work is also featured in the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and she was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Society of Illustrators.

In her later years, she used a technique that she learned from Thomas Eakins, using photographs as a tool when creating portraits.

Smith’s robust career included the illustration of nearly 40 books including such favorites as The Back of the North Wind, The Water Babies, and Little Women. Smith’s career lasted until 1933 when her eyesight began to fail. 

In Conclusion

In conclusion, Jessie Willcox Smith’s illustrations of motherhood are timeless works of art that capture the joy and tenderness of the mother-child relationship.

With our free printables, you can bring these beautiful illustrations into your home and use them in a variety of creative ways. These illustrations are sure to bring warmth and love to any space.

We hope you enjoy using these free printables as much as we enjoyed sharing them with you!



Meet the Author

Hi, I’m Julie! Mother to five beautiful kids, Homeschool Educator, Writer, Handicraft & DIY Enthusiast, Photographer, Thrifter, and Furniture Restorer. Follow along for fun DIY projects creating a handmade home on a budget! Read more about me here→


  1. These turned out so cute! Despite the wardrobe… most of these still feel pretty accurate! Especially the one titled “morning.” I feel like it’s my son begging for another band aid.

  2. What a wonderful piece to write during Women’s History Month! I never knew about Jessie Wilcox Smith’s personal life but we have several books with her illustrations in them. I love the images you feature and can’t wait to print them out!! Thanks!!

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