Picture books as a unique form of storytelling is a relatively new kind of media. While picture accompanies text as the leading source of information from the very beginnings of printing it stayed almost exclusively in the role of decoration for thousands of years until the 19th century.
Of course, the picture also presented info which was very hard or next to impossible to present with mere text, like portraits or maps or plans, etc. But the crucial step with pictures becoming equal or even dominant part of books happened only after printing techniques with movable type alphabet and lithography offered much more aesthetic and (what is even more important) commercial viable solutions. Development of photography offered unprecedented options for transformation from the artist's handwork to the final product.
At the end of 19th and at the beginning of 20th century full colored picture books with high-quality prints on high-quality paper artists, publishers and a wide audience for the first time found themselves in the same boat - the golden era of illustration began. Illustrators were promoted from the second class craftmen to the levels of the most appreciated painters. More and more artists started to specialize in illustration. Publishers were able to create considerable profits at very affordable prices of their books.
Promotion of stories, authors, and illustrators marked another often neglected, yet extremely important milestone in the world of picture books which became independent media with its own written and unwritten rules. Several names among the artists popped up and helped to create a legacy of so-called vintage illustration. Appealing to kids of yesterday and wanted among the collectors of today.
In the second half of the 19th and in the first half of the 20th century the role of illustration dramatically changed. New media was born. Picture books, comics, even cartoons all belong to this era. The art of today is determined with the trends of illustration at this time.
Let's meet the masters!