Before there were TVs, computers, video games, and smartphones, Americans turned to the most affordable form of entertainment—books. Along with periodicals such as the Saturday Evening Post, books seized America's attention not only with their words, but also with their unique illustrations. These works of art weren't just pretty pictures; rather, they captured significant moments in the ever-changing landscape of American culture.
The National Museum of American Illustration preserves these visual cultural records on its walls. Over the past four decades, its curators have been assembling the museum's American Imagist Collection, which boasts the largest number of original illustrated images by such notable artists as Maxfield Parrish and J.C. Leyendecker, as well as the second-largest number of Norman Rockwell images. It also showcases works from Howard Pyle, the "Father of American Illustration," N.C. Wyeth, Charles Dana Gibson, Howard Chandler Christy, John Falter, and more than 150 others.
The illustrations hang in Vernon Court, a building that could be considered a work of art itself. The turn-of-the-century French chateau–style mansion was built in 1898 by Carrère and Hastings, who designed the New York Public Library and U.S. Senate and House office buildings, among others. With a marble hall, petit salon, and ballroom that were modeled after Marie Antoinette's private suites at the Palace of Versailles, it's not surprising that many consider Vernon Court to be one of the most beautiful mansions in America.