Donkey-donkey, Petunia, and Other Pals: Drawings by Roger Duvoisin

Jul 11, 2015 - Jun 26, 2016
Duvoisin Gallery

Roger Duvoisin’s remarkable children’s book illustrations have charmed and captivated generations of young readers, guiding them through some of life’s important lessons. The story of Donkey-donkey teaches children how to accept themselves – and the way they look. The silly goose Petunia thinks that carrying a book under her wing makes her wise; but after several mishaps, she realizes that she must learn to read in order to put wisdom into her mind and heart. A crocodile who befriends farmyard animals, and eventually the farmer and his wife, discovers that, “Life is so beautiful when we have so much in common with friends.” 

Born in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1904, Roger Duvoisin came to the United States in the mid-1920s to work as a textile designer. In 1932, he created A Little Boy Was Drawing, his first children’s book, which he wrote and illustrated for his son.  Duvoisin eventually became a celebrated illustrator of more than 140 children’s books, forty of which he also authored. Until his death in 1980, Duvoisin resided in New Jersey.

In addition to A Little Boy Was Drawing, the exhibition features original illustration drawings for some of Duvoisin’s beloved picture book classics for children, including Donkey-donkey: The Troubles of a Silly Little Donkey (1933); Caldecott Medal winner White Snow, Bright Snow (1947), authored by Alvin Tresselt;  Petunia (1950); A for the Ark (1952); Nubber Bear (1966), authored by William Lipkind; The Old Bullfrog (1968) and The Web in the Grass (1972), both by Berniece Freschet; The Crocodile in the Tree (1972);  Snowy and Woody (1979); and The Happy Lioness (1980), authored by Duvoisin’s wife Louise Fatio. The almost forty drawings in this  display were selected from the more than 2,000 Duvoisin works in the Zimmerli’s extensive collection of American prints and drawings.

This family-friendly exhibition is open to the public on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, as well as during first Tuesday evenings of the month. To reserve a class or group tour Tuesday through Sunday, please contact the Education Department at at least two weeks in advance. 

Organized by Marilyn Symmes, Director of the Zimmerli’s Morse Research Center for Graphic Arts and Curator of Prints and Drawings, with Leeza Cinar, a Rutgers University undergraduate student assistant.  

Roger Duvoisin

The Happy Lioness, book jacket design  for a story by Louise Fatio, 1980

Gouache and black ink on illustration board

Collection Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers

Gift of Louise Fatio Duvoisin