Artist Rose O’Neill’s preliminary sketch (c.1915) of a New Woman and the liberated New Man was one of several suffragette posters she drew for the National Women’s Suffrage Movement. A photograph by F. DeMaria & Co. showed O’Neill and her sister Callista wearing the completed illustration as a placard during a suffragette march in New York City. O’Neill also created posters and postcards for the suffragette movement featuring the Kewpies, for which she was best known. Her support for the suffragette movement was one of the many ways O’Neill challenged the strict standards of propriety for women prevalent in the early 1900s.
An eclectic illustrator, poet, novelist, and short-story writer, O’Neill gained significant financial success and recognition as the best-known female commercial illustrator in the United States. However, she was most famous for the Kewpie cartoon characters, which she created in 1909 at Bonniebrook, her family home near Branson, Missouri. O’Neill used the Kewpie cartoons as a vehicle to challenge cultural myths about women’s roles, family life, and class structure. Although not a native Missourian, she found inspiration for her angelic cupid-like cartoon characters in the enchanted Missouri woods near her Branson home, where she retired after her mother’s death in 1937. She died in 1944 and is buried at Bonniebrook.
Date: 1915, ca.
Subject: Art; Woman suffrage
Contributing Institution: Springfield Art Museum
Rights: Copyright O’Neill Family Foundation
Medium: Watercolor, Graphite, and Ink on paper