Monday, August 3, 2009
Mermaids and Other Inhabitants of the Deep
2009, Dover Publications. Here is my latest collection on a theme, due out any day now—
There is an incredibly sensual draw that compels one towards mer-imagery. Take the things that modern psychology would say about water visuals, compound that with beckoning forms of scantily-clad maidens, and you have the major ingredients to lure many viewers into a painting....
The components lend themselves well to the tastes of the visual artist—The seascape is one of the most practiced and best-sold landscape subjects, while the nude-form is champion on many artistic levels. At some point in their career, almost every Golden-Age artist has done a mermaid. John William Waterhouse did a few, and he did some of the best-known and most revered. Howard Pyle's last (and unfinished) major work—sitting on the easel at the time of his death, was his mermaid. H.J. Ford, Rackham and Dulac did many of them, both color and line.
For quite some time I considered a collection of this material too narrow to attain, even though interest in the subject is great. Then I started collecting work for Andersen's Fairy Tales for an unrelated project. I began to find that almost every artist who would do Andersen's Tales, had a field day imagining "The Little Mermaid". I looked into tales like Undine, Peter Pan, and Midsummer Night's Dream, and uncovered more and more mer-imagery. I had some solid images that anchored the project tucked to the side, and marked up whatever I could find to be scanned. With a big hand from Christina at Dover, the layout came together, and I'm very pleased with the book. And then I found those images I had tucked away. Oh well... , that happens sometimes.
Top to bottom are some choice ones-
H. J. Ford from the Orange Fairy Book
Herbert Cole's Sphynx-like Mercreature
A rare Kelpie Illustration from Warwick Goble
A beautiful group of scales and tails by Walter Crane
Back soon—and good luck to all heading out to Gen Con (Gaming Convention) in Indianapolis in the next week or so. Looking forward to your reports.