Sheilah Beckett's son Sean Smith writes, "Dave Smart, the editor of Esquire, was a big fan of my mother and father's work and thought - as my mother was doing children's book work - she would be a natural for a holiday cover."
(You can see the name of Sheilah's husband, J. Frederick Smith, listed in the cover's sidebar among that issue's art contributors)
I asked Sean if this cover was an important one in Sheilah's career and he replied, "Yes it was an important piece at the time. She also had my brother over her left shoulder as she worked on the piece (him then being only a few months old)."
It struck me that such a high-profile assignment must have impressed potential clients and perhaps resulted in Sheilah getting more advertising projects (which was, of course the proven successful strategy at the Charles E. Cooper studio, where Sheilah was represented).
Sean wrote back, "my mother was getting work on a weekly basis through Cooper's. She feels she was getting a lot of the work because the men were off in service and not available."
Of course Sheilah's true passion was for story book illustration, which she was doing all the while as well. Below, three originals from Grosset & Dunlap's, "The Big Picture Mother Goose Book" which Sheilah illustrated in 1957.
Sean wrote, "We went through a trunk and came up with some even earlier work - some my mother didn't even remember doing, I will get them scanned and send them along too."
I know I won't be alone in saying we're really looking forward to that - many thanks to Sean and Sheilah!
* If you're a fan of Sheilah Beckett's artwork, why not join the Sheilah Beckett Facebook Fan page? There you'll see many other examples of Sheilah's work and have the opportunity to correspond with her directly.
* My Sheilah Beckett Flickr set.