The Night Cometh

Rudyard Kipling’s father, John Lockwood Kipling, visited his son’s family at Naulakha in Brattleboro, Vermont, in June of 1893, shortly after the house was built. The elder Kipling was an accomplished illustrator and art teacher. His appointment to a professorship in Bombay accounted for the family’s long association with India. He illustrated many of Rudyard Kipling’s novels, including The Jungle Book, which was written in Vermont. One of his most famous illustrations was his son’s ex libris.

During that summer, Lockwood Kipling contributed a number of interesting decorative touches to the house, at least two of which survive. I have been exploring Naulakha, as detailed in my previous post, At Rudyard Kipling’s House. It has been a pleasure to discover—and even to touch—Lockwood’s work, having seen a nicely curated exhibit at the Victoria and Albert in London several years ago.

Above the fireplace in the study, Lockwood inscribed in bas relief a quotation from the King James Bible: “The Night Cometh when No Man can Work.” It comes from John’s Gospel. Jesus tells his disciples: “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.”

Upstairs another example of Lockwood’s art can be found. In the day nursery, now a dressing room connecting two bedrooms, a plaster relief of a cat and two birds adorns a thin panel beside the bay window.

The house is full of remnants left behind by the Kiplings. This includes furniture and framed prints: George Frederic Watts’s Hope, which hangs on the wall of the master bedroom, is original, as are a number of French military prints. Above the desk in Kipling’s study are two Tiffany stained glass windows that light up like the dawn sky. These features can be seen in the earlier post linked above.

The Art of Fu Manchu

Sax Rohmer, writing in The Insidious Dr Fu Manchu (1913):

Imagine a person tall, lean and feline, with a brow like Shakespeare and a face like Satan, a close-shaven skull, and long magnetic eyes of the true cat green. Invest him with all the cruel cunning of an entire Eastern race, accumulated in one giant intellect. Imagine that awful being and you have a mental picture of Dr Fu-Manchu.

Rohmer’s yellow peril tales were regularly serialized in America by Collier’s Weekly beginning in the 1910s. These editions were visualized by Collier’s excellent team of in-house illustrators: first Joseph Clement Coll, then John R. Flanagan. Both artists worked in pen and ink, delineating the lurid stories in a style somehow reminiscent of J.C. Leyendecker’s Arrow shirt collar advertisements as well as the future genre of comic book superheroes.

Coll’s illustrations appear above, Flanagan’s below.

Edward Gorey on Cape Cod

In my opinion the high point of television as a medium—even an artform—was the British detective programming of the 1980s through the mid-1990s. I am thinking obviously of Sherlock Holmes with Jeremy Brett and Poirot with David Suchet, but also programs that ran for only one or two series like Campion with Peter Davison and A Dorothy L. Sayers Mystery with Edward Petherbridge and Harriet Walter.

In the United States these programs were broadcast on public television as part of the Mystery! anthology produced by WGBH in Boston. The episodes were introduced in a wrap-around segment by host Vincent Prince, and later Diana Rigg. Anyone who watched Mystery!—especially if they were growing at the time, like me—will inevitably remember the opening credit sequence designed by illustrator Edward Gorey.

At the time that Mystery! premiered in 1980 Gorey was coming off of his greatest commercial success, the 1977 Broadway revival of Dracula, which he designed. (I was born three days after it closed in 1980, but my parents saw it.) 

In 1979 Gorey bought a 200-year old sea captain’s home in Yarmouth, Massachusetts. He had been living in Manhattan where he attended every single performance of the New York City Ballet. After the death of NYCB founder and choreographer George Balanchine in 1983, Gorey moved permanently to Cape Cod. He lived the last seventeen years of his life there and it remains a museum and gallery of his art.

His work on Mystery! is represented in a collection of storyboards and animation cells from the title sequence and a poster for the tenth anniversary in 1990. I think Joan Hickson and Edward Hardwicke appear surprisingly recognizable in the artist’s style.

The Edward Gorey House is open April through December at 8 Strawberry Lane, Yarmouth Port Common.

The Yale Club Bookplate

Howard Pyle was born on this day in 1853. He was the first of the golden age American illustrators, followed by his pupil N.C. Wyeth. Through Pyle a faint Pre-Raphaelite influence came to characterize the genre.

It interested me to discover a work by Pyle that I had seen many times before noticing his initials: the ex-libris of The Yale Club of New York City. Pyle’s design was commissioned in 1905. The plate was engraved by Edwin Davis French, whom Pyle described as “the best engraver in the world.” The ex-libris is affixed to every book in the clubhouse library.

The First Christmas Card

In 1843 Henry Cole sent the first Christmas card. Cole was a British civil servant, later the founding director of the Victoria & Albert Museum. According to an article on the V&A website, he was “instrumental in reforming the British postal system, helping to set up the Uniform Penny Post which encouraged the sending of seasonal greetings on decorated letterheads and visiting cards.”

The same year that Dickens published A Christmas Carol, Cole commissioned a properly Pickwickian illustration by the artist John Callcott Horsley, which he reproduced on 1000 cards. These were “offered for sale at a shilling a piece, which was expensive at the time, and the venture was judged a commercial flop.” Though we now know it was ahead of its time.

Twenty-one copies of the card have survived. One of them is on display at the Charles Dickens Museum in London through April 2020 as part of the exhibition Beautiful Books: Dickens and the Business of Christmas.

Doré in Camelot

From The New Arthurian Encyclopedia, edited by Norris J Lacy:

[Gustave] Doré’s most significant contribution to Arthurian art was his illustration of Tennyson’s Idylls of the King. Already famous for his editions of Dante, the Bible, Cervantes, and others, Doré was commissioned by Moxon & Co., Tennyson’s publisher, to provide thirty-six wash drawings for the immensely popular 1859 Idylls, nine for each of Tennyson’s four poems: “Enid,” “Vivien,” “Elaine,” and “Guinevere.” His work was then copied by English steel-engravers rather than being carved into wood blocks, Doré’s usual practice. The illustrated poems were issued separately in folio editions from 1867 to 1868 by Moxon in London and by Hachette in Paris (trans. Fransique Michel). In 1868, the separate editions were gathered into one volume, for which Doré added a frontispiece depicting Tennyson surrounded by his Arthurian characters, with some creatures of Doré’s invention. The illustrations were popular, especially in England, and went through several editions.

TennysonDore2
Edyrn with His Lady and Dwarf Journey to Arthur’s Court

TennysonDore3
Yniol Shows Prince Geraint His Ruined Castle

TennysonDore4
Viviane and Merlin

TennysonDore6
Geraint Slays Earl Doorm

TennysonDore5
King Arthur Discovering the Skeletons of the Brothers

TennysonDore7
The Sea Fight

TennysonDore8
The Cave Scene

Doré’s London

From the British Library:

In 1869 the journalist Blanchard Jerrold (1826–1884) joined forces with the famous French artist Gustave Doré (1832–1883) to produce an illustrated record of the ‘shadows and sunlight’ of London. As Jerrold later recalled, they spent many days and nights exploring the capital, often protected by plain-clothes policemen. They visited night refuges, cheap lodging houses and the opium den described by Charles Dickens in the sinister opening chapter of The Mystery of Edwin Drood; they travelled up and down the river and attended fashionable events at Lambeth Palace, the boat race and the Derby. The ambitious project, which took four years to complete, was eventually published as London: a pilgrimage with 180 engravings.

Contemporary critics had severe reservations about the book. Doré disliked sketching in public so there were many errors of detail; it showed only the extremes of society, and Jerrold’s text was superficial. Both were transfixed by the deprivation, squalor and wretchedness of the lives of the poor, even though they realised that London was changing and some of the worst social evils were beginning to be addressed. Despite these criticisms, Doré’s work has become celebrated for its dramatic use of light and shade, and the power of his images to capture the atmosphere of mid-Victorian London.

jerrold-william_blanchard-london-B20124-72

DoreLondon2
An imagined East End slum

DoreLondon3
Sir Paul Pindar’s House in Bishopsgate, demolished 1890; the façade is preserved at the Victoria and Albert Museum

jerrold william blanchard london c07870 08
Gower Street station on the London Underground, one of the original Metropolitan Railway stations, opened in 1863; now Euston Square tube station

jerrold william blanchard london c13856 01
An imagined City thoroughfare

jerrold-william_blanchard-london-B20124-81
Hampstead Heath

jerrold-william_blanchard-london-B20124-74
The stalls, Covent Garden Opera

jerrold-william_blanchard-london-B20124-73
The London Docks

jerrold-william_blanchard-london-B20124-76
Bluegate Fields in Shadwell

jerrold william blanchard london c13856 07
The Still and Star in Aldagate

jerrold-william_blanchard-london-B20124-85
Sleeping rough on London Bridge

Wyeth in Camelot

I have previously noted my affection for the golden-age American illustrator Newell Convers Wyeth (1882-1945). His luminous interpretations of boys’ adventure novels from Treasure Island to The Last of the Mohicans have been imprinted on the imagination of several generations.

Wyeth did his best work illustrating Medieval romances, which is not surprising given that his mentor Howard Pyle specialized in the genre. In 1917 Wyeth followed up his breakthrough edition of Treasure Island with a subject previously popularized by Pyle himself: the adventures of Robin Hood.

WyethRobin1
Robin Hood And His Merry Men

WyethRobin2
Robin and His Mother Go to Nottingham Fair

WyethRobin3
Robin Meets Maid Marian

WyethRobin4
Robin Hood and His Companions Lend Aid to Will o’ th’ Green

WyethRobin5
Little John Sings a Song at the Banquet

WyethRobin6
The Passing of Robin Hood

The same year Wyeth tackled the great chivalric subject: King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. The Boy’s King Arthur was a loose adaptation of Malory by the American poet Sidney Lanier, first published in 1880.

Today the book is mostly remembered for Wyeth’s illustrations. One can see the lingering influence of the Pre-Raphaelite artists on Wyeth via the Brandywine School where Pyle taught.

WyethArthur1

WyethArthur2
So the child was delivered unto Merlin, and so he bare it forth

WyethArthur3
And when they came to the sword that the hand held, King Arthur took it up

WyethArthur4
I am Sir Launcelot du Lake, King Ban’s son of Benwick, and knight of the Round Table

WyethArthur5
It hung upon a thorn, and there he blew three deadly notes

WyethArthur6
The lady Lyonesse … had the dwarf in examination

WyethArthur7
“Oh, gentle knight,” said la Belle Isoud, “full woe am I of thy departing”

WyethArthur8
Sir Mador’s spear broke all to pieces, but the other’s spear held

WyethArthur9
Then the king … ran towards Sir Mordred, crying, “Traitor, now is thy death day come”

In 1922 Wyeth illustrated The Legends of Charlemagne, one of three titles written in the 1850s and 1860s by Thomas Bulfinch, later compiled as Bulfinch’s MythologyThe Legends of Charlemagne collects tales of the twelve Paladins.

The majority of the stories are drawn from the sixteenth century Italian epic Orlando Furioso, which includes many fantastic elements: a sea monster and flying horse among them.

WyethCharlemagne1

WyethCharlemagne2
The Midnight Encounter

WyethCharlemagne3
Prince Leo Presents Rogero to Charlemagne

WyethCharlemagne4
Orlando and the Giant Ferragus

WyethCharlemagne5
The Fight on the Bridge

WyethCharlemagne6
The Winged Horse

WyethCharlemagne7
Angelica and the Orc

WyethCharlemagne8
Death of Orlando

WyethCharlemagne9
Ogier and Morgana

How William Morris Printed Wallpaper

Morris_Acanthus

William Morris’s quintessential Victorian wallpaper patterns—lush, verdant, botanical—were printed using simple wood-block presses and a maximum of human craftsmanship. This was in accordance with the philosophy of the Arts and Crafts movement, which he founded, advocating workshops over and against factories.

The Victoria and Albert Museum, which holds a fine collection of Morris prints and textiles, produced a video to demonstrate how Morris’s patterns were (and in some cases still are) printed. The process is painstaking and impressive. Watch below.

Der Orchideengarten

Der Orchideengarten (“The Orchid-Garden”) was a German magazine of weird fiction published between 1919 and 1921. Its content was a mixture of new and reprinted stories, many in translation from other languages. It has the distinction of being the first fantasy magazine, appearing four years before the American pulp, Weird Tales.

The entire 51-issue run of Der Orchideengarten has been made available online by the University of Heidelberg. Of interest to non-speakers of German will be the illustrations, many by artists who worked concurrently for Jugend.

A facsimile edition of the first issue in German with English translation is sold by Zagava.

Orchideengarten2Orchideengarten4

Orchideengarten5