Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Arthur Rackham, Illustrator from a "Golden Age"

The first few decades of the 20th century have become known as the "Golden Age" of book illustration, when improvements in printing technology allowed publishers to produce lavish colour illustrations for the first time. 

Of all the artists who became famous in this period, by far the most popular was Arthur Rackham, who still maintains his hold over the public imagination a century later. [source]

Today marks the date of Arthur Rackham's birth on September 19, 1867, in London, England.  

His book illustrations are known for their luxurious color and fine detail.  Following a popular trend of the time, they were highly desired as Christmas gifts in signed and limited editions.

Rip Van Winkle (1905)

It was the publication of Rip Van Winkle in 1905 that put Rackham on his course to fame.

Following were Peter Pan In Kensington Gardens (1906), Alice's Adventures In Wonderland (1907), Cinderella - in one color plate and 60 silhouettes (1919), and a host of other popular titles

Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens  cover (1906)

"A Mad Tea Party"
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1907)

Cinderella (1919, here)

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.  

He also expanded the use of silhouette cuts in illustration work... (source) 

Arthur Rackham's Cinderella (silhouette source)

With Rackham's death in 1939, his range and consistent high quality of work has remained unrivaled. His last book, Wind In The Willows, was published posthumously in 1940.

 Wind in the Willows (1940)
To read an excellent 8-part series about Rackham and see many more of his gorgeous illustrations, go here.

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