Hilary Knight's Sketchbook for Vanity Fair
The Adventures of Sir Percy
On the eve of his 97th birthday, Hilary Knight, the artist behind the Eloise picture books, introduces a new character: Sir Percy, a human-size frog!
ILLUSTRATIONS BY HILARY KNIGHT
INTRODUCTION AND CAPTIONS BY AMY FINE COLLINS
OCTOBER 28, 2023
Last spring, several friends of Hilary Knight’s, the near centenarian best known for illustrating Kay Thompson’s Eloise books, received an e-mail with an impressively polished rendering of his newest character, Sir Percy, a smartly dressed frog striking a courtly pose in the manner of Hyacinthe Rigaud’s Louis XIV. Often, artists mature into what art historians call an alter Stil (old-age style), usually characterized by freer brushwork, color, and form. If this freshly minted image was any indication, time had miraculously not altered Hilary’s supple line.
He is “more important & more interesting (to me) than Eloise … & ALL my own invention,” Hilary wrote on April 18 when I asked for more information about his pretentious amphibian. “… remember, Kay was not Child friendly … not in any way!!!! Did that make the book more appealing?? WE have so many things to plan & discuss … it would be absolutely perfect if you could come HERE!!”