Pearl S. Buck International recently acquired original Anna Marie Magagna artwork created to illustrate Pearl Buck’s 1958 children’s book, Christmas Miniature. The artwork was donated by Jeanne Deuschle, sister of the artist who died January 1st, 2022.
Pearl S. Buck, the founder of Pearl S. Buck International, was a humanitarian, activist, and Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winning writer, best known for her novel The Good Earth. Buck was a prolific writer, and among her many novels was Christmas Miniature, a children’s book published by the John Day Company in 1958. Anna Marie Magagna was chosen to illustrate the book after her neighbor, who worked at John Day, submitted some of her drawings for consideration.
Anna Marie had a storied decades-long career as an artist. Born in Wilkes-Barre, she graduated from Marywood University in Scranton in 1950 with a BA in Fine Arts and Drama. She continued her studies at the Art Students League and the School of Visual Arts in New York City.
In addition to working as an illustrator, Anna Marie excelled in various art fields, including as an art director, creative consultant, teacher, and designer in advertising, marketing, packaging, product design, and fashion. She was one of the country’s top fashion illustrators, and in her many artistic roles worked with Christian Dior, Revlon, Dupont, Bendel’s, Bloomingdales. Lord & Taylor, Abercrombie & Fitch, Helena Rubenstein, Gillette, Avon, The Limited, Bristol Myers, and many more. She served on the faculty of Pratt Institute, Marist College, the Newark School of Fine and Industrial Art, and the Parsons School of Design. Her drawings for Christmas Miniature were shown in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and her work is included in the New York Historical Society’s “Two Hundred Years of American Illustration.” She was also a member of the Society of Illustrators of New York and Graphic Artist Guild.
Following Anna Marie’s death, her sister came into possession of her art, including her original artwork for Christmas Miniature. The collection includes the original proof drawings submitted to the John Day Company for publishing; process drawings with notes, depicting how color layers were used for printing; and process study drawings. Jeanne ultimately chose to gift the collection to Pearl S. Buck International, where the artwork will be put on display inside the Pearl S. Buck House National Historic Landmark museum during the annual Festival of Trees holiday event, which will run November 16th through January 8th. In addition to the original art, Pearl S. Buck International also received from Jeanne a German-translation edition of Christmas Miniature, and a copy of the book with an inscription from Pearl Buck to Anna Marie.
In an interview with her artist assistant, Anna Marie recalled her first meeting with Pearl Buck at an engagement party after the publication of Christmas Miniature. “Pearl Buck was such a presence. When she walked into the room, you just knew someone of stature had entered. … She made an impression on me as a person, because you knew this was someone important without anyone pointing this out.” Anna Marie added that while Pearl Buck ended up writing several children’s books, she was “happy to be chosen for her first two books … I want this to be seen forever, because I think the drawings and history are so important and I’m proud of it.”
Pearl S. Buck International President & CEO Anna Katz and Pearl S. Buck House Curator Samantha Freise traveled to New York City to meet Jeanne in person and personally accept and transport the donated collection back to Pearl S. Buck International headquarters in Hilltown.
“Pearl S. Buck International is so fortunate and grateful to be the recipient of such a wonderful gift of illustrations and rare books and the history that goes along with it,” noted Katz. “This collection represents the collaboration of two amazing women of their times – Ms. Buck, the celebrated writer, humanitarian and activist, and Ms. Anna Marie Magagna, an icon in the art field. We are honored to receive this gift.”
“This donation is a wonderful addition to our museum collection,” added Freise. “We are so happy to honor the legacy of Anna Marie Magagna and Pearl S. Buck together through the exhibition of these drawings.”
- From left, Pearl S. Buck International Curator Samantha Freise, Pearl S. Buck International President & CEO Anna Katz, and Jeanne Deuschle, sister of the artist Anna Marie Magagna.
- One of Anna Marie Magagna’s illustrations from “Christmas Miniature.”