Jessie Marion King (c1875-1949)

Jessie M. King (married name Mrs E. A. Taylor) was born in New Kilpatrick, Dunbartonshire, and studied at Glasgow University and the Glasgow School of Art, at which institution she won a travelling scholarship to Italy (Florence). In 1899 she was working on book cover design in Germany, and by 1902 she was back at the Glasgow School of art teaching book design. She exhibited at the RSA from 1902, and her work was also on show elsewhere, most notably in Birmingham. In 1908 she married the painter E. A. Taylor, and the couple moved to Manchester. However, in 1911 she went to live in Paris, and only in 1914 did she return to Scotland, setting up a small artists' community in Kirkcudbright.

King's main artistic output was books - she illustrated more than a hundred of them. However, her oeuvre was wide - as well as book plates and covers, she did jewellery and fabrics - some used by Liberty's in the 1900s - designed embroidered panels, and work in batik, which she learned in Paris and introduced back in Scotland. She also did ceramic painting, murals and watercolour painting. Her illustrations tend to be fairy stories, Arthurian legend, and storyless pictures of solitary slender girls surrounded by flowers and leaves. She was much influenced by C. R. Mackintosh, whom she had studied under at the Glasgow School of Art, and also by Renaissance art, which she had seen in Italy. Much of her work is in outline, as practiced by Aubrey Beardsley or Walter Crane. The sheer amount of her output means that her quality is variable, from very good to disconcertingly poor, with pretty-pretty wide-eyed nymphettes in some of her later work. Her later watercolours, often showing the Isle of Arran, are nothing special. Among her better book illustrations are one William Morris title, The Defence of Guinevere, and various works of Kipling and Milton. Some of her works are apparently at the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery in Bedford.

Illustration // Other artists