Alice in Wonderland Illustrations, or any sort of children book illustrations that are high quality, always get me into trouble. I am an avid collector of Children Book Illustrations and every time I am in a 'Used Book Store' I really have to control myself not to walk out with a bunch of greatly illustrated books. Of course the older they are, the better...
Mark Carder brought these wonderful illustrations by Arthur Rockham from 1907 to my attention.
My daughter, who has inherited the "hording" gene from yours truly, has Alice in Wonderland books in 9 or 10 different languages. Just imagine travelling with her! We used to stop at book stores in every foreign land to search for yet another translated version of this book. Of course, half the time it was a struggle communicating what we were after, since most of the time we did not speak the language, but the quizzical look on the book sellers made it just the more fun. Once we left the stores book in hand, seeing her grinning and the book seller baffled, I just chuckled at the thought that my daughter appreciates the conquest of a cool book just as much as I do. I guess the apple does not fall far from the tree after all!
Photo of Arthur Rackham
Arthur Rackham was born in 1867 in Britain, as one of twelve children. He studied at the City of London School where he won several prizes for his art. At the age of 18, he became a clerk, but continued his love for art by also studying at the Lambeth School of Art. He made occasional sales to the illustrated magazines of the day like Scraps and Chums. In 1891 and 1892, he had a close association with the Pall Mall Budget as one of this weekly's main illustrative reporters. He was competent.It was the Victorian age
In 1892, he left his clerk position at the Westminster Fire Office and pursued a career as an illustrator. He landed a regular job at the Westminster Budget, a weekly magazine, that provided him with regular work as a reporter as he tackled the burgeoning book market. It took a while for him to find his style, but in the Victorian era, nicely illustrated books were becoming more popular offering him a chance to establish himself as an illustrator.
His first book illustrations were published in 1893 and were followed by nineteen more book assignments during the 1890's, with dozens of pictures for two major children's magazines.
Most obvious, in retrospective, is the calm and good humor of the drawings. They seem imbued with a gentle joy that must have been reassuring to both the children and their parents. Rackham had found his niche. His drawings would convey a non-threatening yet fearful thrill and a beauty that was in no way overtly sexy or lewd. It was a perfect Victorian solution and he seems to have taken to it with an impish delight.
To touch on just few of the literally dozens of highlights of a long and successful career, Rip was followed in 1906 by one of his two masterpieces, Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, another 50-plate extravaganza - this from Hodder and Stoughton. A great sample of his foreboding trees is at left - from Peter Pan.
1907 saw an edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland from Heinemann. J.M. Dent reissued Ingoldsby and Constable & Co. Grimm, both in revised, updated editions. "Rackham" was a marketable commodity and everybody wanted one of the golden eggs. It appears that Heinemann won the goose, though. In rapid succession, amid a wealth of other books (some minor, some important), they published four books intended for adults: in 1908 - A Midsummer-Night's Dream (which I classify as his second masterpiece); in 1909 - Undine; in 1910 and 1911 The Rhinegold and the Valkyrie and Siegfried and The Twilight of the Gods. These four books contained 115 color plates from Rackham's paintings and all of my favorite Rackham images are contained within them.
Source: Arthur Rackham
This is a real cool link to
devoted to Classical Illustrations.