Leonard Weisgard (1916–2000) published his first New Yorker cover and picture book while still an art student. An illustrator of over 200 children’s books, he is best remembered for his 20-book collaboration with author Margaret Wise Brown, including the popular Noisy Books series (1939) and the Caldecott Medal-winning The Little Island (1947). Influenced by both mid-century modernism and American folk art, Weisgard incorporated different media—gouache, poster paint, crayon, chalk, collage, stenciling, and pen and ink—to create a new kind of children’s book. He and his family moved from Connecticut to Denmark in 1970, where he lived for the rest of his life.
Weisgard’s three children generously donated 180 illustrations by their father. In 2016, The Carle presented the exhibition Magician of the Modern: The Art of Leonard Weisgard in which 20 of his seminal paintings, restored to their original splendor, made their public debut.
The Golden Egg Book hatched into a beloved children’s classic. The winning combination of Wesigard’s charming illustrations and Brown’s imaginative text creates a timeless tale of curiosity and imagination. Both artist and author shared a spiritual regard for the natural world.
Inspired by Russian Constructivism and the Cubism of Stuart Davis, Weisgard translated the tenents of modernism into playful children’s books. These “here and now” books created with Margaret Wise Brown emphasize the contemporary world and feature lively, semi-abstract graphics. They’re intended to fuel young curiosity about the people, places, and things they experience daily. Even the title, The Quiet Noisy Book, is irreverent.
Weisgard was an avid collector of American folk art, farm implements, and furniture. Many of the items appear in his illustrations for Mr. Peaceable Paints and other books.