Arthur Rackham (1867-1939) was born in London as one of 12 children. 1884 at the age of 17 he was sent on and ocean voyage to Australia to improve his fragile health. At the age of 18 he worked as a clerk at the Westminster Fire Office and began studying part-time at the Lambeth School of Art.
In 1892 he left his job and started working for The Westminster Budget as a reporter and illustrator. His first book illustrations were published in 1893 in To the Other Side by Thomas Rhodes:
|The Other Side|
|Illustration from "The Other Side"|
His first serious commission was in 1894 for The Dolly Dialogues, the collected sketches of Anthony Hope, who later went on to write The Prisoner of Zenda.Book illustrating then became Rackham's career for the rest of his life.
|The Dolly Dialogues|
In 1903 he married Edyth Starkie, with whom he had one daughter, Barbara, in 1908. Rackham won a gold medal at the Milan International Exhibition in 1906 and another one at the Barcelona International Exposition in 1912. His works were included in numerous exhibitions, including one at the Louvre in Paris in 1914.
Rackham is widely regarded as one of the leading illustrators from the 'Golden Age' of British book illustration which encompassed the 100 years from1900 until the start of WW1. During that period there was a strong market for high quality illustrated books that typically were given as Christmas gifts. Many of Rackham's books were produced in a de luxe limited edition, often vellum bound and sometimes signed, as well as a larger, less ornately bound quarto "trade' edition. This was often followed by a more modestly presented octavo edition in subsequent years for particular books. The onset of WW1 in 1914 curtailed the market for such quality books, and the public's taste for fantasy and fairies also declined in the 1920s.
Rackham invented his own unique technique which resembled photographic reproduction; he would first sketch an outline of his drawing, then lightly block in shapes and details, Afterwards he would add lines in pen and India ink, removing the pencil traces after it had dried. With colour pictures, he would then apply multiple washes of colour until translucent tints were created:
|1911 Lovers |
ink and watercolour 22.8 x 12.6 cm
He would also go on to expand the use of silhouette cuts in illustration work, particularly in the period after the First World War, as exemplified by his Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella.
|Plate from "Cinderella"|
Arthur Rackham died in Limpsfield, Surrey.
This is part 1 of an 8-part post on the works of Arthur Rackham:
The Ingoldsby Legends is a collection of myths, legends, ghost stories and poetry written supposedly by Thomas Ingoldsby of Tappington Manor, actually a pen-name of an English clergyman named Richard Harris Barham.
The legends were first printed during 1837 as a regular series in the magazine Bentley's Miscellany and later in New Monthly Magazine. The legends were illustrated by John Leech and George Cruikshank. They proved immensely popular and were compiled into books published in 1840, 1842 and 1847 by Richard Bentley. They remained popular during the 19th century but have since become little known. An omnibus edition was published in 1879: The Ingoldsby Legends; or Mirth and marvels.
1898 – 1907 Illustrations originally created by Arthur Rackham in 1898 and revised in 1907, published in 1908.
|1898 - 1908 The Ingoldsby Legends|
|1898 - 1907 "The little man had seated himself in the centre of the circle upon the large skull"|
|1898 - 1907 "Into the bottomless pit he fell slap"|
|1898 - 1907 "Wandering about and Boo-hoo-ing"|
|1898 - 1907 "The horn at the gate of the Barbican tower was blown with a loud twenty-trumpeter power"|
|1898 - 1907 "Sir Thomas, her Lord, was stout of limb"|
|1898 - 1907 "A flood of brown-stout he was up to his knees in"|
|1898 - 1907 "A grand pas de deux performed in the very first style by these two"|
|1898 - 1907 "And the maids cried Good gracious, how very tenacious!"|
|1898 - 1907 "One kick? It was but one but such a one"|
|1907 "Sir Rupert the Fearless"|
|1898 - 1907 "With a countenance only Keeley could put on"|
Grimm's Fairy Tales is a collection of German fairy tales first published in 1812 by the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. They penned many popular children’s stories, including Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and Rumpelstiltskin.
Illustrations by Rackham produced, and in some cases revised, between 1898 and 1909.
|1898 - 1909 Grimm's Fairy Tales|
Rip Van Winkle is a short story by American author Washington Irving published in 1819, as well as the name of the story's fictional protagonist. Written while Irving was living in Birmingham, England, it was part of a collection entitled The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon. Although the story is set in New York’s Catskill Mountains, Irving later admitted, "When I wrote the story, I had never been on the Catskills."
This version originally published in 1905.
|1904 - 1905 Rip Van Winkle|