Saturday 27 July 2013

Arthur Rackham – part 6

Arthur Rackham self-portrait

Arthur Rackham (1867 – 1939) is widely regarded as one of the leading illustrators from the 'Golden Age' of British book illustration which encompassed the years from 1900 until the start of the First World War. 

Arthur Rackham's works have become very popular since his death, both in North America and Britain. His images have been widely used by the greeting card industry and many of his books are still in print or have been recently available in both paperback and hardback editions. His original drawings and paintings are keenly sought at the major international art auction houses.

This is part 6 of an 8-part post on the works of Arthur Rackham. For full biographical notes see part 1.

The Romance of King Arthur is Alfred W. Pollard's version of Malory's Morte d'Arthur and includes tales of King Arthur, Sir Launcelot, Sir Gareth, Sir Tristram, Sir Launcelot and Dame Elaine, Sir Galahad and the Quest of the Holy Grail, and Launcelot, Guenever, and King Arthur.

Malory's own Morte d'Arthur was compiled from folk tales, with the addition of some original material related to Sir Gareth. The original version of the tales was first published by William Caxton in 1485 and the Malory's compilation is regarded as the best-known work of English-language Arthurian literature.

In preparing for the commission, Rackham turned to his own copy of Beardsley's "Morte D'Arthur" and, following the pattern of the Beardsley version, drew square and rectangular chapter headings to be set at irregular intervals up and down the page. As in Beardsley, these have a stark black and white appearance, though Rackham cannot resist the occasional wryly humorous touch such as a barking dog or a jester's head.

The closest Rackham comes to Beardsley, however, is in his illustration of 'Sangreal', a flaming lidded chalice carried by an attenuated golden-haired white-robed maiden. This homage to Aubrey is based closely on Beardsley's own angel in 'The Achieving of the Sangreal', the frontispiece to Volume Two of "Morte D'Arthur".

"Sangreal" by Arthur Rackham

Aubrey Beardsley "The Achieving of the Sangreal" 1893-94

1917 Cover of The Romance of King Arthur

English Fairy Tales edited by Flora Annie Steel (1847 –1929). In 1867 Flora Annie Webster married Henry William Steel, a member of the Indian civil service, and for the next twenty-two years lived in India, chiefly in the Punjab, with which most of her books are connected. She acted as school inspector and mediator in local arguments.

She encouraged the production of local handicrafts and collected folk-tales, a collection of which she published in 1884. Her interest in schools and the education of women gave her a special insight into native life and character. A year before leaving India, she co-authored and published The Complete Indian Housekeeper, giving detailed directions to European women on all aspects of household management in India. In 1889 the family moved back to Scotland, and she continued her writing there.

This version originally published in 1918.

1918 Cover of English Fairy Tales

Title page

"Tree of mine! O tree of mine! Have you seen my naughty little maid?"

"Well!" she chuckled, "I am in luck!"

The Three Bears

"Ah! Somebody has been at my porridge, and eaten it all up!"

"Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman"

Many's the beating he had from the broomstick or the ladle

Mr. and Mrs. Vinegar at home

 She went along, and went along, and went along

Cinderella retold by Charles Seddon Evans (1883 – 1944). C. S. Evans joined William Heinemann publishers in 1914, and  became a director of the company in 1922.
The title character of Cinderella is a young woman living in unfortunate circumstances that are suddenly changed to remarkable fortune. The story was first published by Charles Perrault in Histoires ou contes du temps passé in 1697, and later by the Brothers Grimm in their folk tale collection Grimms' Fairy Tales.

Although both the story's title and the character's name change in different languages, in English-language folklore "Cinderella" is the archetypal name. The word "Cinderella” has come to mean one whose attributes were unrecognised, or one who unexpectedly achieves recognition or success after a period of obscurity and neglect. The still-popular story of "Cinderella" continues to influence popular culture internationally, lending plot elements to a wide variety of media.

This version originally published in 1919.

1919 Cover of Cinderella

Title page