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!
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.
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