Art I LOVE – Arthur Rackham

The Three Bears

I was first captivated by the illustrations of Arthur Rackham by reading the Ingoldsby Legends.  As children we weren’t really allowed to read this book because of the dark subject matter (mostly horror poems and stories).   Some of the illustrations were enough to induce nightmares – but all that made it all the more exciting!

Hey up the chimney Lass…Ingoldsby Legends

London born Rackham  (1867 – 1939) illustrated  a great many journals and books.  His style is easily recognised, because he uses muted water colours, his style is imaginative and whimsical and there are always tiny details in the picture which gradually reveal themselves to the viewer, making the work even more enjoyable.

Norns weaving destiny by Rackham for Seigfried’s The ring

Rackham crops up everywhere.  I even came across his illustrations when I was researching the story of ‘The Ring’ by Wagner.  He was a prolific illustrator.  His Victorian style was in keeping with his imaginative readers, full of fun yet exciting too.  He illustrated poems too –   Goblin Market by Christina Rosetti among many.  Rip Van Winkle, Peter Pan – even Alice in Wonderland. When I look back at his illustrations, he recaptures my childhood and fills it with  carefree days of hiding away with  books (forbidden and allowed)  and transports me back to a magical land where the sun always shone and the corners were filled with the darkest shadows.   What a wonderful contribution to childhood!

Hey up the Chimney Lass image from here

The Three Bears the illustration for English fairytales by Flora Annie Steel here

Wonderful images and info here

Rackham gallery here

4 thoughts on “Art I LOVE – Arthur Rackham

  1. Oh, how I long for illustrations of this nature to fill books once again. I, like you, used to pour my eyes over and across them. So much of the artist’s interpretation in them….and mind you this was at a time when I knew nothing of illustrating or artistry. They were the images I carry forward with me and there is not enough of them anymore. All the digital imagery in illustrations today just doesn’t seem to come across the same. Am I old fashioned, or what!

  2. That’s why these illustrations shall never die – they will always shine brightly in childhood memories. You’re right Leslie – reproduction in whatever form is no substitute for the real thing.

  3. He has such a nice organic quality in his use of line. I agree with Leslie about preferring the old style illustrators. I think those artists had a better regard for the printed word.

  4. Yes I agree, they just did have a complete regard for the written word. You can tell they understood and immersed themselves in the story, letting their imagination take over (but still sticking to the ‘script’). Those past illustrators were masters of line and what it could do, they were disciplined but not confined.

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