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Jessie M. King

Jessie M. King

Scottish Artist
Jessie M. King
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Scottish Artist
A.K.A. Mrs. Ernest Archibald Taylor, Jessie Marion King
Was Painter
From United Kingdom
Type Arts
Gender female
Birth 20 March 1875, Bearsden, Scotland, United Kingdom
Death 3 August 1949, Kirkcudbright, Kirkcudbrightshire, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland (aged 74 years)
Spouse: E. A. Taylor
Jessie M. King
The details


Jessie Marion King (20 March 1875 – 3 August 1949) was a Scottish illustrator known for her beautiful illustrated children's books. She also designed jewellery and fabric, and painted pottery. King was one of the artists known as the Glasgow Girls.

Early life and education

King was born in Bearsden, near Glasgow. Her father was James Wat(t)ers King, a minister with the Church of Scotland and her mother was Mary Anne Anderson. She received a strict religious education and was discouraged from becoming an artist. When King was very young, she would hide drawings she made in school for fear that her mother would tear them up.

Jessie M. King began training as an Art teacher in 1891 at Queen Margaret College (Glasgow). In 1892 she entered the Glasgow School of Art. As a student, she received a number of awards, including her first silver medal from the National Competition, South Kensington (1898).

Career and work

Illustration by Jessie M. King from the Christmas supplement to The Studio, issued 15 December 1913

King was made Tutor in Book Decoration and Design at Glasgow School of Art in 1899. She continued to teach until her marriage to E. A. Taylor in 1908, and she chose, against the grain, to keep her maiden name.

King was influenced by the Art Nouveau of the period, and her works correspond in mood with those of The Glasgow Four. Despite the influence of Art Nouveau, she was inspired to create unique designs where she did not literally translate the real world. "I would not copy designs," she said, "but insisted on drawing out of my head." During her early period, she created detailed pen and ink illustrations on vellum.

Most of King's earliest works involved illustration, she also wrote books and was a skilled jewelry designer. Her first published designs, and some people believe her finest, were for the covers of books published by Globus Verlag, Berlin between 1899 and 1902. The publisher was a subsidiary company of the great Berlin department store, Wertheim's. The publisher, Georg Wertheim, wanted her to design "a range of items in the 'new Scottish Style.'"

She made a Grand Tour of Germany and Italy in 1902 and was influenced by the works of Botticelli. In the same year her binding for "L'Evangile de L'Enfance" was awarded a gold medal in the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative Art, held in Turin. King became a committee member of the Glasgow Society of Artists (1903) and a member of the Glasgow Society of Lady Artists (1905). Her contribution to Art Nouveau peaked during her first exhibitions, Annan's Gallery in Glasgow (1907) and Bruton Street Galleries, London (1905).

In 1908 King and her husband moved to Salford where their only child, daughter Merle Elspeth, was born. In 1910 they moved on to Paris where Taylor had gained a professorship at Ernest Percyval Tudor-Hart's Studios. In 1911 King and Taylor opened the Sheiling Atelier School in Paris. Her works in Paris are considered as influential to the creation of the Art Deco movement. King and Taylor moved to Kirkcudbright in 1915 and continued to work there until her death.

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