Alice and Martin Provensen met in 1943 when they were both working for animation studios. They married in 1944 and went on to illustrate over 40 books together–including The Color Kittens by Margaret Wise Brown and A Visit to William Blake’s Inn by Nancy Willard. Martin Provensen also designed Kellogg’s Tony the Tiger. Of their work together Alice said, “…we were a true collaboration. Martin and I really were one artist.” (Interview in Publisher Weekly, 7/16/2001, by Leonard S. Marcus)
Other illustrations from The Golden Bible may be seen on Flickr.
I love the way way the Provensen’s give us a sense of motion in the Flight to Egypt below. The lines that cut across the two parts of the pictures move us from left to right, but the soldiers are rigid and straight, while the Holy Family follows the angel’s outstretched arm as a gently curving hill flows across the panel. It’s a nice bit of storytelling–telling us both “The soldiers are coming!” and “The angel will help them escape” and giving us a picture that enables us to hold those ideas in our imagination simultaneously. The star-like flower shapes are used throughout the book to indicate the presence of angels or the Spirit.