Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Fairies in the Forest

In today's blog we look at a lovely and ethereal landscape with four fairy-like figures frolicking at the edge of a pale blue lake.

"The Silver Glade" original painting by John R. Neill $2000.00

"The Silver Glade" + Bonus Drawing on back.

John R. Neill (American) 1877-1943
Gouache, watercolor, colored pencil on paper mounted to illustration board, signed "JRN"
Image size: 8.75 x 11"
Board size: 11.25" x 14.25"

This seems to be a piece Neill did for his own pleasure, with no indications it was ever published.
The silvery trees in the foreground are pure Neill - as is the vibrant yet subtle color palette.  

Detail from "The Silver Glade" by John R. Neill

Neill has signed the painting at lower right with his initials "JRN." 

The drawing is in fine condition on a sheet of paper which is mounted to a larger piece of illustration board. 

There is a wonderful BONUS DRAWING on the back of the illustration board.  It shows a handsome young man in a wheel chair, drawn and painted in sepia ink.  

Sepia illustration on the back of "The Silver Glade" by John R. Neill CLICK TO ENLARGE

An irregular glue remnant forms a rectangle that crosses through the bonus artwork of the young man.The subtlety and detail are wonderful!


A paper conservator might be able to separate the plies of the illustration board, resulting in two frame-able images.

Please visit our on-line store featuring many wonderful original paintings, pen-and-inks, and other wonderful drawings by John R. Neill!

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Saturday, April 13, 2019


Here we have a lovely and very detailed pen-and-ink drawing by John R. Neill showing a wealthy young gentleman wearing a striped smoking-jacket, cunningly holding a cigarette holder. 

"After-Wit" Pen-and-Ink drawing by John R. Neill $2000.00

"After Wit" (1921)

John R. Neill (American) 1877-1943
Pen-and-Ink on heavy illustration board, signed "JNO R NEILL"
Image size: 13.5" x 11"
Board size: 22" x 13"

This fine drawing was created for the story "After-Wit" by Nalbro Bartley, published in the January 1921 issue of Everybody's MagazineNeill's play of light and dark and the various textures he uses are excellent. Look at the detail in the curtains (decorated with assorted birds) and the way Neill drew the smoke, partially obscuring the background. 

Detail from "After-Wit" illustration by John R. Neill (1921).

The drawing is captioned in Neill's hand at lower right, "After-wit / 'Hello, Doc. What do you think of this getting an electric jag? anything in it? —" Additional penciled note: "After Wit - Everybodys N. S. 1055 5 - 4."

The drawing is on a large sheet of heavy illustration board. It is in very good condition. There is a small Neill family inventory sticker "99" at lower right above caption.

"After-Wit" Pen-and-Ink drawing by John R. Neill $2000.00

 The drawing is signed "JNO R NEILL."

As mentioned above, the story "After-Wit" by Nalbro Bartley, was published in the January 1921 issue of Everybody's Magazine. You can see the drawing as published below.
Neill's drawing for "After-Wit" as published in EVERYBODYS MAGAZINE.

The author of "After-Wit" is Nalbro Isadorah Bartley. She was born in Buffalo, New York, November 10, 1888. She was an American short story writer and newspaper columnist. She died on September 7, 1952. You can read the entire story and see Neill's other fine illustrations for it below. Click on each of the images to enlarge them for easier reading. Enjoy!

"After-Wit" by Nalbro Bartley
Illustrated by John R. Neill
Published in Everybody's Magazine, January 1921

Click on the pages below to enlarge them for reading.

"After-Wit" Page 1 - Click to Enlarge
"After-Wit" Page 2 - Click to Enlarge
"After-Wit" Page 3 - Click to Enlarge
"After-Wit" Page 4 - Click to Enlarge

"After-Wit" Page 5 - Click to Enlarge
"After-Wit" Page 6 - Click to Enlarge

"After-Wit" Page 7 - Click to Enlarge

"After-Wit" Page 8 - Click to Enlarge

We have many fine original drawings by John R. Neill at our online store.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

The Flower Fairies

By John R. Neill
Originally published in The Housewife, May 1916.

This is a short piece both written and illustrated by John R. Neill.
 Click on any of the illustrations to enlarge them.

Of course, you have gathered the soft pink and white flowers that grow in May, and some with spots of red and stripes of gold.

When you gather them again, look very carefully into their faces and remember how hard the fairies have worked to get the colors right; for before you gather them, those little creatures have worked from early morning with brush and scissors, planning and clipping and cutting. Sometimes they use yellow and pink powders, pearls and diamonds, soft silks stretched over laces, all sewed carefully around the edges.

Those flower fairies sing and dance all day with the birds, and their work is almost play to them.

One very old fairy man, whose business it is to chase away the worms and hard-headed beetles, usually sits on a rock at the edge of the woods. He gives the alarm when the children are coming, and always seems sullen and quiet. Some say he is very disagreeable, and when no other fairy is around to see him, he has been known to poke his cane right through some of the prettiest flowers.

You can at times see very small holes in the flowers. These you will know he has made. But he does not do it often, only when he is feeling out of sorts.

When all the brushes of the fairies are broken, the birds will give them a feather or two from, which they make new brushes in no time.

All their days go quickly and happily, and at night each fairy climbs into the flower she likes best, and the petals close themselves like shutters, holding their little passengers lightly and comfortably swinging until morning.

And whenever a fairy has slept, that flower has the fragrance of its fairy which always stays, and that is all we really know of these wonderful little people.

—John R. Neill

Please visit our on-line store featuring many wonderful original paintings, pen-and-inks, and other wonderful drawings by John R. Neill!

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Tuesday, April 9, 2019

John R. Neill onboard the ARGOSY

Today we're looking at one of the earliest biographical pieces written on John R. Neill - and this one was written by Neill himself. The autobiographical sketch was published in the November 8, 1930 issue of Argosy Magazine, a monthly collection and serialization of adventure stories. In many issues they had a feature called "The Men Who Make the Argosy." Below you can see and read John R. Neill's moment in the Argosy spotlight. Click on the image to enlarge for easier reading.

John R. Neill bio in ARGOSY MAGAZINE November 8, 1930.

The biographical piece is loaded with information and detail. Neill begins by discussing his early art education at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and his brief stint in medical school, followed by his close friendship with fellow illustrator Joseph Clement Coll and their early careers working as newspaper artists.

Neill begins discussing his Oz career by stating, "The stage was blazing the success of L. Frank Baum's 'Wizard of Oz' at this time and for some reason the publishers lit on me to illustrate a sequel to 'The Wizard.'" Of course Neill knew of Wizard primarily from the Broadway musical first! The show was at the height of its popularity in late 1903 and 1904 when Neill began work on his first Oz book The Marvelous Land of Oz.

Neill's endpaper design showing the stars of the 1903 WIZARD OF OZ.

Neill goes on to mention that he's now entertaining his own children with the Oz books, talks of his incredible success as he moved his career to high-end magazine work from the mid-teens through the 1920s working for The Saturday Evening Post, Pictorial Review, Ladies' Home Journal, and The Delineator - and how he poured many of the magazine's lucrative paychecks into building apartments in New York City.

In the mid-'20s Neill began designing a new home for himself and his growing family in Great Neck, Long Island, but stopped work on the house project to invest in a silver mine in Mexico! Read the article above to see how THAT went.

By the November of 1930 when this article appeared the 1929 stock market crash was a year old and much of Neill's best paying (and most beautiful!) magazine work had come to an end.

We will have much more on Neill's life and career as the blog proceeds - so keep checking back. And please visit our on-line store featuring many wonderful original paintings, pen-and-inks, and other wonderful drawings by John R. Neill!

Come check it all out at

Monday, April 8, 2019

Designing Handy Mandy!

Here we have another design sketch by John R. Neill for Handy Mandy in Oz (1937) by Ruth Plumly Thompson. 

HANDY MANDY IN OZ  sketch by John R. Neill $500.

John R. Neill (American) 1877-1943
Pencil on paper, unsigned
Image size: Multiple images on sheet
Paper size: 11" x 8.5"
$500 SOLD 

There are very few of these preliminary drawings that survive, showing Neill's process illustrating the famous Oz books. This sheet shows two very early (and rather different!) ideas for Handy Mandy herself. In the main image she appears younger than she does in the final book illustrations, with Heidi-like braids hanging down her back. The second drawing at lower right shows her in the Dutch cap Neill finally decided upon and the semi-circle behind her shows Neill's pondering the chapter heading design.

HANDY MANDY design sketch showing Chapter Heading design.

Two more "chapter heading" shapes appear along the mid-right hand side of the sheet. Above them, to the right of the standing Mandy, is a rough for the final illustration of Mandy on the flying rock from page 22 on the published book.
HANDY MANDY design sketch & final illustration of Mandy on flying rock.

We have many other fine original drawings by John R. Neill on the website!

Come check it all out at

Sunday, April 7, 2019

"The Oz Parade"

One of the highlights of this collection is this extraordinary Oz painting by John R. Neill. Wonderfully impressionistic, the painting shows a parade of all the main Oz characters: Jack Pumpkinhead, the Tin Woodman, the Scarecrow. Tik-Tok, Glinda the Good riding the Hungry Tiger, Ozma and Dorothy riding the Cowardly Lion, with the Patchwork Girl and the Wizard of Oz himself bringing up the rear!

"The Oz Parade" (1936) watercolor by John R. Neill $8000.00

John R. Neill (American) 1877-1943
Watercolor, gouache, and metallic silver ink on paper, unsigned
Image size: 6" x 9.5"
Paper size: 11.25" x 14.5

This painting is one of the final color studies for a large-scale commission Neill did for the Lufkin family in the summer of 1936. There are at least six studies known to survive with this being one of the more finished. This magical Oz painting is on thick paper done in watercolor, gouache, and pencil, and is further enhanced with metallic silver ink on the Tin Woodman and on the border. It's rather reminiscent of Neill's use of metallic ink in the early printings of The Emerald City of Oz (1910).

Note the silver metallic ink highlighting the Tin Woodman.

The painting is very loose, feeling almost effortless, yet captures the personality of each character with a minimum of line. Look at Tik-Tok's face as he gazes up at Glinda, and the resigned dignity of the Hungry Tiger and his wonderful purple stripes!

Detail from "The Oz Parade" (1936) by John R. Neill.

Neill experimented with a red line for the border (see right hand side of image) but decided against it. He has marked it with pencil and written the word, "out."

The drawing is in very good condition, though there is some very light soiling to the surface of the image area. There is some staining in the margin area and a Neill family inventory label at upper left corner.  The back of the paper has a landscaping design drawn in pencil.

Back of "The Oz Parade" (1936) showing landscaping sketch by Neill.

We have many fine original drawings by John R. Neill on our sales site: Pen-and-ink, watercolors, pencil drawings, and some additional Oz material, too, with more being added every couple weeks.

Come check it all out at

Saturday, April 6, 2019

"The Tramp"

Here we have a spectacular pen-and-ink drawing by John R. Neill. It's large and it shows Neill's extraordinary skill creating different textures and interplay between light and dark.

"The Tramp" pen-and-ink by John R. Neill $2800.00

John R. Neill (American) 1877-1943
Pen-and-ink on thick illustration board, signed "JNO R NEILL"
Image size: 19.5" x 9.75"
Board size: 20.5" x 17.75"

Click here to see this drawing on our sales page

Make sure to click on the images to enlarge them so you can examine the intricate detail! It is an exceptionally fine example of Neill's pen-and-ink work.

Detail of "The Tramp" a pen-and-ink by John R. Neill
Detail of "The Tramp" a pen-and-ink by John R. Neill

The drawing is captioned in Neill's hand at lower right corner of board: "The tramp stopped digging and looked up, but made no effort to take the card." This wonderfully detailed pen-and-ink was published in a Salvation Army article called "A Man May Be Down But He's Never Out" in an unknown publication.

Additional writing on the back of the board thus: #6192 / May 2, 1919 / (Then in Neill's handwriting) "A Man May be down / But He's never out." / Salvation Army Article / John Neill

The image area is in superb condition with none of Neill's frequent drawing corrections using board-scratches, applied paper, or Chinese-white. The board has some wear and chipping to upper left corner, top edge, and bottom edge. There are pencil lines indicating the printer should remove the black borderline and also indicating the image should be reduced by the printer to 8 7/8" wide. Small Neill family inventory label marked "34" affixed to lower right corner of board.

Neill has signed the drawing in full.

We have many other fine original drawings by John R. Neill on the website!

Come check it all out at