Thursday 12 November 2015

W. Heath Robinson – part 1

W. Heath Robinson by C D Ward

William Heath Robinson (1872 – 1944) was an English illustrator and cartoonist, best known for his drawings of complicated machines for achieving simple objectives. “Heath Robinson Contraption” is a phrase that entered the language during WW1 in Britain, and later in the United States. There are few artists whose name has passed into the language, but Chambers’ Dictionary has the following:
Heath-Robinson: adj used to describe an over-ingenious, ridiculously complicated or elaborate mechanical contrivance.

William Heath Robinson was born into a family of artists – his father Thomas Robinson and brothers Thomas Heath Robinson and Charles Robinson were all successful illustrators. From 1887, he studied at Islington Art School (London), for three years, before moving to the Royal Academy.

William wrote and illustrated three highly successful children’s books (The Adventures of Uncle Lubin 1902, Bill the Minder 1912, Peter Quip in Search of a Friend 1933) as well as illustrating numerous others.

In the run up to WW1, Robinson became known for a series of drawings in magazines such as The Sketch and The Tatler, many of which I will be featuring in this comprehensive look at his work.

This is part 1 of a 20 – part series on the works of W. Heath Robinson:

1897 Danish Fairy Tales and Legends (Andersen's Fairy Tales): 

1897 Danish Fairy Tales and Legends ( Andersen's Fairy Tales )

Frontispiece "The Dustman."

"Little Tuk" 
pen and ink 40.6 x 8.2 cm

1897 The Giant Crab And Other Tales from Old India:

The Giant Crab and Other Tales 
title page

The Pious Wolf

The Hypocritical Cat

The Crocodile and the Monkey

The Wise Parrot and the Foolish Parrot

The Monkey and the Gardener

The Grateful Beasts and the Ungrateful Prince

The Cunning Crane and the Crab

Union is Strength

The Great Yellow King and his Porter

The Bold Beggar

The Goblin City

The King's Lesson

1897 The Life and Exploits of the Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote De La Mancha:


1899 Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen (Thomas, Charles and William Robinson):

Front Cover

Title page "The Mermaid" by Charles Heath Robinson

Garden of Paradise by Thomas Heath Robinson

Great Claus and little Claus by W. Heath Robinson 
"He turned and twisted, but it was impossible to undo the cord" 
pen and ink 48.3 x 37.5 cm

Great Claus and little Claus by W. Heath Robinson 
"They both made a hearty meal of the fish, the meat and the cake" 
pen and ink 41.8 x 29.1 cm

The Little Match Girl by W. Heath Robinson

The Red Shoes by Charles Heath Robinson

1899 The Talking Thrush (1922 edition):

Front Cover

Title Page

Title Page 
pen and ink and watercolour 31.1 x 21.6 cm

The Rabbit and the Monkey 
pen and ink 29.1 x 43.2 cm

The Rabbit and the Monkey 
pen and ink 33 x 24.1 cm

A Crow is a Crow Forever

The Frog and the Snake

The Monkey's Rebuke

The Swan and the Crow

The Cat and the Parrot

The Merchant was Much Dismayed 
pen and ink 36.8 x 17.8 cm

The Parrot in Court 
pen and ink 24.8 x 7 cm

Up Jumped the Boy and Out he Ran 
pen and ink and watercolour 23.5 x 15.9 cm

1899 The Arabian Nights Entertainments:

The Arabian Nights Entertainments 
"Lifted the Stone with ease" from Aladdin 
pen and ink 17.8 x 53 cm

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