Friday, August 11, 2017

Claes Bäckström illustrates The Runaway by Harry Kullman

Sometimes is it the most modest books which can contain the most lovely things, be that the story or the illustrations. This is a hardback edition by Methuen of a novel for children by Harry Kullman, translated from the Swedish and published in the UK in 1961. It has some of the most successful and charming illustrations from the period I have seen for a long time by Claes Bäckström. The observation of character and 'attitude' is exquisitely well done. I think the most successful illustration here is the image of the boy kneeling on the quayside engrossed in his game, there is something about it which brings back an almost physical memory of having been thus engaged in something as a child.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Robin Jaques Illustrates The Hand of Apollo by Elizabeth Coatsworth

Robin Jacques is a big name little known. He was an illustrator for more than 100 books in the heart of the twentieth century and he ploughed his own course. While his contemporaries started covering the pages of books in thick black spidery scratchy inky illustrations, Jacques calmly and meticulously created fine line shading and careful recreations of historical costumes and architecture. He notably illustrated a whole series of books with Ruth Manning-Saunders: The Book of ...Wizards ...Monsters ...Witches ...Giants etc. His contribution to illustration in the 20th Century was immense and is barely recognised today.

Fun fact: Robin Jacques was the brother of Hattie, of Carry On fame.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A Bio-Gem from the Biograph Studio

This was a a delightful and unusual find today. The Biograph Studio was quite influential in the beginning of cinema and as well as offering moving portraits from their studio in Regents Street in London they also produced these small flip books in "Mutoscope" format of 'events'. I'm not entirely sure yet but its possible this is Queen Victoria's Jubilee or perhaps a subsequent coronation.


Clare Leighton illustrates Perkin the Pedlar in colour...

As promised, these are the images from Perkin the Pedlar in colour. Each of these is a full page and the black with strong flat colour is remarkably effective. 

Clare Leighton illustrates Perkin the Pedlar by Eleanor Farjeon

Quite often a book is illustrated in both black and white and colour and I make a decision about whether I prefer the artists offering of one or the other and then only blog those images. Clare Leighton illustrates Perkin the Pedlar by Eleanor Farjeon in both b/w and colour and I couldn't decide, so there is another post containing some of the colour images. The book is a variation on the theme of the alphabet book, Perkin tells a number of stories and poems that in some way related to each of the letters of the alphabet. Published by Faber and Faber in 1932.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Ralph Chubb: The Book of Rapha

Ralph Chubb's books were things which combined word, image and physicality in an extraordinary way. He wrote that, in his search for the perfect book "I always visualized a method which would combine poetical idea, script and designs, in free and harmonious rhythm - all unified together - so as to be mutually dependent and significant." The degree to which he succeeded in this aim is open to debate, but certainly he did so to such an extent that there has never been a serious effort to reprint his works and one has to imagine that this is at least in part due to the difficulty of doing justice to them, the best of which are extraordinary concoctions of lithographed images and text as well as hand-colouring where the image and text really are co-dependent.

What this means though is that the texts he wrote have remained less known than they might have otherwise. So I thought it might be worthwhile reproducing here these pages from a strange 1980s magazine called Ganymede which was a peculiar admixture of writings on the occult and spirituality from a gay perspective. They have reprinted here "The Golden Book of Rapha" which, as I understand it, (because I don't have a collection of Ralph Chubb's books sitting behind me on the shelf), was published in Flames of Sunrise: a Book of the Man Child concerning the Redemption of Albion. The original book was published in 1954, lithographed by the author/artist in 25 copies with 6 painted in watercolour. It should be noted that this cheaply duplicated A5 magazine has used illustrations from Chubb's other books to illustrate this piece.

Tim d'Arch Smith suggests that it may be the Second World War had brought on a re-occurrence of the neurasthenia that afflicted Chubb because of his experiences of fighting in the first. Chubb appears at this point to be identifying with the angel Raph, or Raphael, or at least the prophet of said angel, the guardian angel of Albion. He is combining this with his visionary erotic fantasies and a dubious understanding of mainstream Christianity. There is a manic intensity to this writing in which ideas are pulled together in seemingly random and unsystematic ways and thrown into the text to almost overwhelm the reader. But it is often said, of course, that insanity and divine revelation are two side of the same phenomenon and Chubb's writing here certainly a testimony to that truth.

Rescued a Young Victorian Chap

 Well, the photograph itself is in fairly poor condition but I could hardly leave such a handsome chap in the shop to deteriorate further now, could I?

Monday, July 24, 2017

Rockwell Kent illustrates Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself"

Rockwell Kent (1882-1971), hardly needs an introduction from me, as Wikipedia has it he was an "American painter, printmaker, illustrator, writer, sailor and adventurer", which seems appropriate for someone whose best known work is he illustrations for Moby Dick. Perhaps it was some of those vast, placid, ocean skies and seascapes that informed the expansive use of white space and stillness in his illustration work. Heritage Press produced an edition of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass illustrated by Kent and he peppered a huge book with what must be well over a hundred crisp black and white illustrations. The ones I have scanned here all come from his decoration around the long poem "Song of Myself".

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Mr Anon and Mr Anonymous

I am mildly annoyed with myself that this post is more anonymous than perhaps it needed to be. I just found these fabulous images from a early 20th Century photo album in my "to blog" folder and I know, from the file names, that they must have come from ebay. But I'm afraid, if there was any accompanying information from the listing, I am now unable to find it. Nonetheless, it's a great little album and, I hope, still worth sharing.

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