Alice Bolam Preston

Alice Bolam Preston (1888–1958) lived in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts. Determined to pursue a career in art, she attended the Massachusetts School of Art (today the Massachusetts College of Art and Design). Preston is one of the numerous professional women artists who worked in the 1910s and 1920s but remains relatively unknown. Her work is characterized by crisp linework, meticulous detailing, and jewel like colors. Her subjects range from fantasy and fairies to anthropomorphized animals and quiet domestic scenes of mothers and children. In addition to 11 children’s books, Preston illustrated several covers for House Beautiful and Vogue magazines.   
  
The Museum has nearly 300 artworks by Preston. Collectors Kendra and Allan Daniel discovered a trove of Preston drawings at the Brimfield Antiques Show, which they purchased and later donated to The Carle. Says Kendra, “It seemed a matter of rescue to purchase this archive and see that Preston’s work was properly preserved among that of her fellow illustrators.” The Carle presented the exhibition A Genteel Tradition: The Art of Alice Bolam Preston in 2015. [link to exhibition]

Illustration of mice on ship.

Alice Bolam Preston, Illustration for Sniffy Snaffy and Velvet Paw, 1918. Gift of Kendra and Allan Daniel.

Illustration of mice at table.

Alice Bolam Preston, Illustration for Sniffy Snaffy and Velvet Paw, 1918. Gift of Kendra and Allan Daniel.

Illustration of mice and frog talking.

Alice Bolam Preston, Illustration for Sniffy Snaffy and Velvet Paw, 1918. Gift of Kendra and Allan Daniel.

Illustration of old mice with canes.

Alice Bolam Preston, Illustration for Sniffy Snaffy and Velvet Paw, 1918. Gift of Kendra and Allan Daniel.

Illustration of mother mice with children.

Alice Bolam Preston, Illustration for Sniffy Snaffy and Velvet Paw, 1918. Gift of Kendra and Allan Daniel.

Illustration of elephants and people.

Alice Bolam Preston, Illustration for Further Adventures of Mollie, Waddy and Tony, 1919. Gift of Kendra and Allan Daniel.

Illustration of woman sewing in chair.
Alice Bolam Preston, Illustration for The Strange Year, 1920. Gift of Kendra and Allan Daniel.
Preston’s idyllic domestic scene is the cover illustration for a 1920 publication titled The Strange Year. It reinforces Victorian mores, depicting a mother quietly needle-pointing as her children play dutifully at her feet. Preston delights in different textile patterns, including the curious fairytale-inspired wallpaper. 
 
Illustration of man and woman looking into pool.

Alice Bolam Preston, Illustration for The Green Forest Fairy Book, 1920. Gift of Kendra and Allan Daniel.

Illustration of fairies in trees.

Alice Bolam Preston, Illustration for The Green Forest Fairy Book, 1920. Gift of Kendra and Allan Daniel.

Illustration of woman cutting hair on child with bowl on head.

Alice Bolam Preston, Illustration for Little Man With One Shoe, 1921. Gift of Kendra and Allan Daniel.

Illustration of man and woman by mushroom field.

Alice Bolam Preston, Illustration for Little Man With One Shoe, 1921. Gift of Kendra and Allan Daniel.

Illustration of three men in robes walking.

Alice Bolam Preston, Illustration for Little Man With One Shoe, 1921. Gift of Kendra and Allan Daniel.

Illustration of person hammering.

Alice Bolam Preston, Illustration for Little Man With One Shoe, 1921. Gift of Kendra and Allan Daniel

Illustration of moon over water with lilypads.

Determined to pursue a career in art, Preston attended the Massachusetts School of Art (today the Massachusetts College of Art and Design). She studied design with Vesper L. George, who ran an art school in Boston, and interior decoration with Amy L. Sacker.

Alice Bolam Preston, Illustration for Little Man With One Shoe, 1921. Gift of Kendra and Allan Daniel.

Illustration of knights and ladies riding towards castle.

Alice Bolam Preston, Illustration for Little Man With One Shoe, 1921. Gift of Kendra and Allan Daniel.

Illustration of two mice.

Alice Bolam Preston, Illustration for Little Man With One Shoe, 1921. Gift of Kendra and Allan Daniel.

Illustration of two girls in snow.

Alice Bolam Preston, Illustration for Peggy in her Blue Frock, 1921. Gift of Kendra and Allan Daniel.

In addition to her career as an illustrator for the publishers Little, Brown and Houghton Mifflin, Preston exhibited her paintings at well-regarded venues in Boston and New York. She held memberships in the North Shore Art Association and the Rockport Art Association. 
 
Illustration of two girls putting flowers in hair.

Alice Bolam Preston, Untitled, n.d. Gift of Kendra and Allan Daniel.

Illustration of girl carrying pie.

Alice Bolam Preston, Untitled, n. d. Gift of Kendra and Allan Daniel.

Illustration of two women doing crafts at table.

Alice Bolam Preston, Illustration for cover of House Beautiful, n. d. Gift of Kendra and Allan Daniel.