Monday, January 25, 2010

Happy 201, Mr. Poe

It has come to my attention that Poe's 201st birthday was this past week (Jan. 19th). I'm a big fan of Poe imagery. In 2007 I put together a book collecting illustrations of his works— it gave me a new avenue to explore in regards to illustration collections, grouping by theme rather than artist. I enjoy this approach, with four titles so far, and a fifth on the way soon. But Poe will always be my first...

There are some stand-out samples in the Poe Illustrated collection. Dulac's pieces are amazing, I showed one just a few weeks ago, and I'll put up a Poe portrait here that appears to be a Dulac etching . There is some nice color work by Byam Shaw, a British Illustrator who went on to found an Art School, and Harry Clarke's nearly definitive work on Poe. Then there are some really inspired ink pieces by a young William Heath Robinson (1872-1944). Robinson was one of three successful illustrator brothers who all did book illustration. Most of William Heath's latter work relied heavily on satire, humor, and some crazy imaginative inventions. I called these images inspired because they are not his usual material or even style, he hadn't really settled on that yet at this point in his career. These pieces are highly influenced by the Art Nouveau movement that would have been going strong at the time (1900), and are more decorative than most of W. H. Robinson's latter works. He pulls off the mix of his own storytelling with the style of the day fantastically. The small book these pieces came from contains scores of beautiful line pieces, Including some incredible full page plates. Here's a couple of my faves, and a link to the whole thing on pdf.

There's a lot more to tell about the brothers Robinson. I'll try to get back to W. H., Charles, and Thomas Heath, in the near future.

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