31 December 2016

Harry Clarke

I do love a lot of black in an illustration. The images above by Harry Clarke (1881-1931), for Edgar Allan Poe's 'Tales of Mystery and Imagination', first published in 1919 and reprinted by the Folio Society in 2007, seem to owe something- perhaps rather a lot- to Aubrey Beardsley, morbid and phantasmagorical and mannered as both artists were. Great use of black, though.

10 October 2016

Exercises in Style

Sometimes I buy a book on the basis of its cover. Well, in this case the book was also well larded with little illustrations that lived up to the promise of the cover. I loved these right away: spontaneous, witty & a nice ink line. Plus, they remind me of Alexander Calder. In fact they're by Stefan Themerson, of whom I had not heard prior to this purchase a Polish poet, composer & novelist who was married to the equally interesting Franciszka Weinles. The two made experimental films together & founded 'Gaberbocchus Press', a publishing company whose authors included Raymond Queneau, Stevie Smith, Alfred Jarry, and Bertrand Russell. 
The book makes quite a good read, too, even if the idea behind it becomes a little wearing by variation 163 or so. 

3 August 2016

A Little History

Some delightful insights here into the fashions of other times. Plus ├ža change. My apologies for the quality of some of these images, and also for the imperfect credits- they were just too good to pass up.

One use for the new-style skirts, by Honore Daumier in Le Charivari April16, 1856

More unorthodox but charming use of an item of wear; these bonnets were apparently equally useful for a clandestine embrace, or for rendering the lady unobtainable.

Fashion caricature from Punch, 1870. Punch printed a lot of this sort of thing, and beautifully rendered.

             This was apparently a Victorian invention, from 1887, rather than a joke, or perhaps both.

The London Charivari, 1871. The Burdens of Fashion: 'What we must come to before Love!'

Regrettably, I have no idea where these came from, but they're very much to my taste. Note the matching headgear.

6 July 2016

More Arabian Nights

Back after a long break. Almost two years after I first wrote about Helen Stratton, more of her illustrations from the same book. Her work is not in the same league as Edmund Dulac or Arthur Rackham, but sentimentality wins out every time for me. I look at these and I'm right back on the steps of the porch of my grandparents'  house, all cool tiles, deep shade and loitering lizards. More fabulous costumes and decor. More exotic names (Noureddin, Camaralzaman and Badouri, Beder and Giauhara, Princess Parizade). More rather bad printing. I would like to know how much of this (both stories and pictures) is based on original sources and how much is Victorian/Edwardian fantasy. Time to re-read the original book, perhaps, over the summer.