Some time ago, a friend informed me that a lot of the top illustrators of the 50's had done artwork for Reader's Digest Condensed Books. I made a mental note to keep an eye out during thrifting expeditions for those fat volumes I had always previously ignored.
A couple of weeks ago I hit paydirt. While scanning the dollar table of a local used book store I found the Autumn 1954 volume of RDCB. It was absolutely brimming with fantastic illustrations by five fabulous 50's artists, all done in line plus that distinctive Reader's Digest limited colour palette.
Each day this week I'll be showing you all of the illustrations from one of the five stories in that book - beginning today with the five pieces Austin Briggs did for Harriet Arnow's The Dollmaker.
Here once again Briggs has employed that interesting inking style he used for that Look magazine article we examined recently... and, since both assignments were done in 1954, perhaps Briggs was really enjoying this particular inking style at that point in his career.
While all of his work here is rewarding to look at, I think its this simple drawing of a pair of hands whittling that really captivates me. Sometimes its these relatively inconsequential visuals, handled with such tremendous sensitivity, that reveal how masterfully accomplished an artist really is.
I know you'll want to see these images at full size so be sure to check them out in my Austin Briggs Flickr set.