Thursday, January 31, 2008

Helen Jacobs, Illustrator

Isn't it nice when you have your 'eye' confirmed. I picked up this little softcover childrens' primer in among a load of other books which, superficially at least ought to have been more interesting. However, something about the front cover and a quick flick through to look at the illustrations in the rest of the book made me think that it would be worth hanging on to for a better look.

It turns out that the illustrator, Helen Jacobs (1888-1970), was rather good, although, as the only real internet information I can find about her points out, working on these educational books (and full-time as a primary school teacher), made her style more boldy graphic than it had been before. She was involved in illustrating a number of these Riverside Readers including:

The Water Babies
Alice in Wonderland
Tales from Old Greece
Legends from the Norse

Certainly, the images from The Water Babies which are exibited at the link below seem particularly good. The Riverside Reader I have is only 48pp long. I was struck, certainly by a certain willowy, camp sexiness in the picture on the cover of Orpheus but as ever with the Greek myths it seems to be the story of 'Psyche and Cupid', also in this collection, that makes an illustrator reach for their best - so it is the illustrations for that I have reproduced below.

If you would like to own the original then you should go to this gallery. However, even for a good artist like Jacobs I think probably the £900-£1000 price tag for what are, after all, reasonably small pen and ink drawings is pushing it more than a little.

PS. artything, sorry to hear you've not been well, I think we've both had that here too. Actually the photos didn't come from the Hornet nor from the Market - I have my own little secret stash of antique/junk shops in Chichester. We keep meaning to go to the Pallant but never seem to get there on a day when it's open. John C. you are an absolute star with those Corvine photos you sent, I may well do that post on his relationship with photography at some point. Jim D. I hadn't seen the fully realised painting of that sketch but I think you are quite right. I'm sure if I'd just seen the painting I would have loved it but as it is the sketch has just as much raw power and is somehow beautiful at the same time. Miles, welcome. Lovely to see new faces. I hope you weren't too disappointed by the lack of lots of information about Gwenda Jones. I can't claim to know much about her. The images of the lantern slides were taken while the slides were on a light box - not perfect but it gives a pretty good idea I hope. Do drop by again sometime.


garden features said...

Very nice post. I enjoyed going through every bit of it.

Anonymous said...

vHelen Jacobs taught me in 1965 at St Mathias, Stoke Newington. I didn't realise she was quite as old as that. She was a nice old lady and taught me to draw, but, alas, not very well due to my lack of talent..

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