Ethel Reed – Cover for Boston Sunday Herald: Easter, 1895

This cover for a 1895 issue of the Boston Sunday Herald was part of the work that brought graphic designer Ethel Reed into the spotlight in the latter half of the 1890s. She had already gained a reputation for her Art Nouveau style illustration work by the age of 18, but creating covers and posters for this magazine was the catalyst that really kicked her short-lived graphic design career into motion. The cover reflects a lot of stylistic elements characteristic of the Art Nouveau movement, including a prioritization of soft forms and curved lines over geometric shapes, and floral elements. The floral aspects in this magazine cover are more subdued than in much of Ethel Reed’s other work, but it is still present behind the focal figure in the form of the two weird wiggly leafy plant stalks and the shapes that look like flowers at the top of them. The color scheme for this cover is nearly entirely made up of different values of red, as well as a creamy off-white. The kind of expression of serene calm or contentedness on the face of the figure is seen in much of Reed’s other works where a face is visible, and in the works of many other Art Nouveau artists as well. Overall, I think the cover is really striking because of its minimalism when it comes to detail. It doesn’t need a whole lot of lines to show you what’s going on, because it uses its simplistic and fluid line work so competently to let your mind fill in the rest.

Image source: