November 20, 2012

Rare Charlotte’s Web Illustrations at the Eric Carle Museum

(November 19, 2012—Amherst, MA) The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is pleased to offer the rare opportunity for guests to see selections from the 20th-century classic, Charlotte’s Web, written by E.B. White and illustrated by Garth Williams. Some Book!  Some Art!:  Selected Drawings by Garth Williams for Charlotte’s Web, on exhibit from December 11, 2012 until April 22, 2013, will celebrate Williams’s 100th birthday and the 60th anniversary of the book. The exhibition will include The Carle’s very first art acquisition—the drawing of Lurvy tossing a bucket of water on Wilbur [p. 128].  Support for this exhibition is provided by HarperCollins Children’s Books.

Charlotte's Web is one of the masterpieces of twentieth-century children’s literature. On October 19, 1952, Eudora Welty wrote in The New York Times, "As a piece of work it is just about perfect, and just about magical in the way it is done." It was recognized with the Newbery Honor Medal the following year. White’s elegant prose and Williams’s exquisite drawings form a spirited dialogue that constitutes a conversation of substance and style. To this day the tale of the uncanny friendship between a doomed pig and a caring spider is a book beloved by young and old.
The Carle had long hoped to borrow Williams’s drawings from the book for an exhibition. In 2010, however, the work was put up for auction, dispersing the illustrations around the country. The sale caused quite a stir in the world of children’s book art, bringing very strong prices. 

“This was an historic moment for The Carle,” says Chief Curator Nick Clark. “Thanks to generous friends of the Museum, we were able to make our first acquisition for the collection. Soon after, we found the opportunity to buy the preliminary drawing as well.”

Determined to make an exhibition of the work a reality, Clark reached out to various collectors who had also purchased the drawings and began to assemble a strong representation from the book. The exhibition, which will be on view in the Central Gallery during The Carle’s 10th anniversary, will comprise approximately 20 finished drawings, as well as a selection of preliminary sketches to help articulate the artist’s working process. There will also be a subset of works that explore the representation of Charlotte from the book, to the initial animated film, to the recent live-action film. “We feel really fortunate to be able to reunite these celebrated drawings — and give our guests a chance to experience this classic book anew,” says Clark.
The mission of The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, a non-profit organization in Amherst, MA, is to inspire a love of art and reading through picture books. The only full-scale museum of its kind in the United States, The Carle collects, preserves, presents, and celebrates picture books and picture book illustrations from around the world. In addition to underscoring the cultural, historical, and artistic significance of picture books and their art form, The Carle offers educational programs that provide a foundation for arts integration and literacy.
Eric and Barbara Carle founded the Museum in November 2002. Eric Carle is the renowned author and illustrator of more than 70 books, including the 1969 classic, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Since opening, the 40,000 square foot facility has served more than half a million visitors, including 30,000 schoolchildren. Its extensive resources include a collection of more than 10,000 picture book illustrations, three art galleries, an art studio, a theater, picture book and scholarly libraries, and educational programs for families, scholars, educators, and schoolchildren. Educational offerings include professional training for educators around the country. Museum hours are Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 4 pm, Saturday 10 am to 5 pm, and Sunday noon to 5 pm. Open Mondays in July and August and during MA school vacation weeks. Admission is $9 for adults, $6 for children under 18, and $22.50 for a family of four. For further information and directions, call 413-658-1100 or visit the Museum’s website at