Take a HOLIDAY: Part II


Holiday-May-1951 crop

Here’s the intriguing HOLIDAY magazine that I mentioned in my last post. I rescued it from a cardboard box in an antique store last summer (for $3!!!). I was immediately attracted to the beautiful cover illustration, which was created by a rather famous writer and artist. I’ve cropped out the name, but can you guess who it is?

Here’s a hint: Do you recognize any of these characters?


That’s Miss Clavel from the Madeline books carrying the tray of drinks. And the little red-haired girl and black-haired boy playing hide-and-seek are Madeline and her friend Pepito.

And the illustrator?

benelmans vacation cover signature

It’s the beloved Ludwig Bemelmans!

The cover was published in May 1951–more than 10 years after the first Madeline came out in (1939) and two years before the second book, Madeline’s Rescue, was published (1953). In a sense, this cover represents a rebirth of Madeline and friends.

HOLIDAY magazine commissioned Bemelmans to illustrate their “holiday house”, which they built (at a cost of $82,976) and then featured in the magazine:


The Holiday House was designed by George Nelson, one of the founders of American Modernism.

The magazine includes a lavish spread on the house, boasting that it could be managed “without servants” (Bemelmans obviously thought otherwise).

The ideal owner? A “party-minded person” who likes to entertain “simply or lavishly.”

Here’s a look at what inspired Bemelmans:

Holiday house, from HOLIDAY magazine May 1951

Oh, the extravagance of it all! The cost, the creativity and a gorgeous cover to boot.

Bemelmans‘ illustrations (and writing) graced the pages of many popular magazines, including HOLIDAY, Vogue, Town and Country, and The New Yorker:

This cover is special, however, because these heroic literary characters are rubbing shoulders with the jet set. A curious place for them to make a cameo, don’t you think? Was Bemelmans, whom himself survived many hardships, injecting some sober second thought into this dreamy and privileged environment?


Now if only Miss Clavel could take a holiday.



  1. The “The New Yorker” cover restaurant scene illustration reminds me of covers of some of Wodehouse’s books. I wonder if Bemelmans ever did any of those.

    • You’re right! It does look like a Wodehouse cover. It could be a stylistic trend from that time — but you never know, he may have done some book covers as he struggled to make ends meet early on in career. I’ll keep my eyes open for more Bemelmans!

      • I did quite a bit of searching yesterday but couldn’t find anything linking him to the artwork on Wodehouse’s books. But it was fun. And thanks for putting me onto this particular scent 🙂

  2. wow again, what a find!!! They are so beautiful. And really, I did not know that our dear Ludwig illustrated magazines as well!! Live and learn and thank you for sharing.Are we going to see more of this treasue…yes please!!!!

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