Celebrate the 75th Anniversary of Beloved Schoolgirl Madeline at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

Madeline at 75: The Art of Ludwig Bemelmans
On View in Western MA, November 15, 2015 – February 22, 2015

“In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines / Lived twelve little girls … the smallest one was Madeline.” So begins each book in Ludwig Bemelmans’ beloved and universally recognized Madeline series about a brave, mischievous, and lovable young girl attending boarding school in Paris. Published in the United States in 1939, the first book about Madeline came at a time when travel opportunities were limited; Bemelmans’ lush, evocative paintings and illustrations of the “City of Light” offered readers of all ages an escape from the ongoing economic and political turmoil occurring across the globe.

Three generations later, Bemelmans’ illustrations- not to mention his precocious heroine!- are just as beloved. Celebrate Madeline’s 75th anniversary in print by visiting Madeline at 75: The Art of Ludwig Bemelmans at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA,  this winter! The first exhibition dedicated solely to Bemelmans’ work in fifty years, it contains a selection of original artwork from his books, as well as mural panels, objects from the French bar he briefly owned, La Colombe, and personal items such as his well-loved paintbox. The exhibition begins on Saturday, November 15th, 2014, and will run through February 22, 2015.

In addition to an exclusive opening reception for museum members, the Carle has planned a bevy of activities for all museum visitors during the exhibition’s opening weekend. These include opportunities to interact with a costumed character dressed as Madeline, attend an afternoon tea featuring a Paris-inspired menu, take a guided gallery tour, and listen to readings of the Madeline books. For sale in the museum shop are copies of the illustrated exhibition catalogue with an afterword by illustrator Maira Kalman and an essay by Jane Bayard Curley, the curator of Madeline at 75.

The celebration of the 75th anniversary of Madeline’s first publishing extends way beyond the Carle! Penguin Books has reissued a special anniversary edition of the original Madeline, updated with a full-color panoramic pop-up map of Paris. In addition, YOTTOY Productions in New York has created a special collection of commemorative Madeline-related merchandise. And the exhibition itself actually premiered at the New York Historical Society this summer, to remain there until mid-October before its opening at the Carle.

“Bemelmans was one of many brilliant 20th century European artists who found his true home in New York. It’s fitting that this exhibition debuted at the New York Historical Society,” says Carle Executive Director Alexandra Kennedy. “It was met with record crowds and huge critical success. We are excited to bring his work to The Carle in November.”

Museum hours are 10am to 4pm Tuesday through Friday, 10am to 5pm Saturdays, and noon to 5pm Sundays. Open Mondays 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 www.carlemuseum.org.

[Image credit: Madeline at Versailles, ca. 1954; Watercolor and gouache; The Estate of Ludwig Bemelmans; TM and © Ludwig Bemelmans, LLC.]

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