Henriette Willebeek Le Mair (1889-1966)

December 17, 2014

Born in Rotterdam, Henriette Willebeek le Mair was the daughter of a wealthy corn merchant. Her early childhood was comfortable and many of the motifs for interiors and scenes depicted in her illustrations could be traced to her own nursery. She was influenced by the work of French children’s illustrator Maurice Boutet de Monvel, and she wanted to take drawing lessons from him, but when they met, he suggested that she should develop her own style.

Known as a hard worker, she was a gifted linguist, sportswoman, and musician. In her twenties she taught a dozen young children in her home, and these children were her models as she developed her graceful style. She was fastidious in work, and completed countless sketches before she was finally satisfied. Miss la Mair was commissioned to create a series of images for color plates to advertise Colgate. The publishers were so impressed by the sumptuous illustrations that they asked A.A. Milne to write a series of pieces around her work.

In 1920, le Mair married Baron van Tuyll van Serooskerken, a Sufi, and she joined the mystical Muslim movement a year later, an involvement that change the character of her artwork and dominated her later life as she devoted herself to travel, religion and helping the poor.

1911 – Our Old Nursery Rhymes

1912 – Little Songs of Long Ago

1913 – Little People

1914 – The Children’s Corner

1915 – Schumann’s Album of Children’s Pieces

1917 – Dutch Nursery Rhymes

1925 – A Gallery of Children

1926 – A Child’s Garden of Verses

1939 – Jtakata Tales



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