Portrait of Eloise
Best known for his iconic illustrations of Eloise in the books by Kay Thompson, Hilary Knight has been creating art for seven decades. Influenced by his artistic parents, whose work will be on view in this exhibition, Knight’s first drawings were featured in 1952 in magazines such as Gourmet and Mademoiselle. Two years later, he was introduced to actress and singer Kay Thompson. Over the next few years, they collaborated on four books featuring Eloise, the six-year-old girl who lives in the Plaza Hotel.
Since then, Knight has continued his successful career illustrating in a variety of fields. Featured in the exhibition are Knight’s early advertising assignments; magazine illustrations; Eloise merchandising sketches; concept art and posters for Broadway musicals; painted fashion designs; personal photographs; sketches, concept art, and final work for several books he illustrated and some that he wrote; and a folding screen inspired by Eloise. Following Thompson’s death in 1998, Knight drew and painted five more books featuring Eloise, selections from which will be on view. Eloise and More is the most comprehensive exhibition on the life and art of one of the most published and beloved illustrators of the last seventy years.
This exhibition featuring original art, manuscripts, sketches, photographs, music, videos and more will pay homage to the sprightly six-year-old. Much of the work on view has rarely been seen, including trial Eloise drawings from Hilary Knight in 1954, previously unpublished drawings from Eloise in Paris, and a once-stolen Eloise portrait from the Plaza Hotel. The exhibition also explores the lives of both Kay Thompson and Hilary Knight and the life that Eloise took on after publication—in clothes, merchandising, and even Eloise-themed children’s menus from the Plaza. The exhibition will also feature original illustrations from many other picture books by the artist, as well as Drawn from Life, an illustrated memoir.
To learn more about the exhibit and the Norman Rockwell Museum, visit https://www.nrm.org/2021/10/eloise/
Portrait of Eloise above: Hilary Knight (1926 – ) © Hilary Knight. All Rights Reserved.