A short biography of Leonard Weisgard

Leonard Joseph Weisgard
December 13, 1916 – January 14, 2000
Leonard Weisgard, Caldecott award-winning illustrator of more than 200 children’s books was perhaps best known for his collaboration with the author Margaret Wise Brown.

Leonard Weisgard with his father Samuel
Weisgard was born in New Haven, Connecticut but spent much of his early childhood in England, where his father originally came from.His interest in the quality of children’s books began after his family moved back to the USA when he was 8. As a schoolboy in New York, he was dissatisfied with the books supplied by the public schools he attended. He found the illustrations monotonous and thought that the world could not be all that dreary and limited to only one color.

He went on to study art at the Pratt Institute and the New School for Social Research, where he was influenced by primitive cave paintings, Gothic and Renaissance art and avant-garde French illustrators of children’s books of the 1920s.

He used a wide range of colors and media in his books, including gouache, poster paint, crayon, chalk, decoupage, stenciling and pen and ink.

Leonard Weisgard also studied dance with Martha Graham and worked in the field of window display. He began his career making illustrations for magazines such as Good Housekeeping, The New Yorker and Harper’s Bazaar.

Leonard with Nora Edmunds of UNICEF with reproductions of Greeting Cards

Leonard with Nora Edmunds of UNICEF with reproductions of Greeting Cards 

His first book, Suki, the Siamese Pussy, was published in 1937, followed by an adaptation of Cinderella.

(Sources: The LA Times from the 24th of January, 2000 and The New York Times the 27th of January, 2000)

Leonard Weisgard at work

Leonard Weisgard working on an illustration for the Unicef greeting cards