Thursday, August 26, 2010

Deep Dream-like color of Florence Harrison

Florence Harrison (active 1887-1937) has a history as mysterious as her style. I was surprised to find she had nearly vanished from accurate identification, only recently being connected to a clear and verified identity. Born at sea, she was the daughter of a master mariner—and grew up to split her time between Europe and Australia.

Important titles that Harrison worked on include Guinevere and Other Poems, by Tennyson, and The poems of Christina Rosetti. Later in her career she was a regular contributor to children's annuals. (These large magazine-type publications often had first-rate illustrators doing pieces for them that were exclusive to these periodicals) Harrison's work reflects a strong influenece from the Pre-Raphaelites in mood, content where possible, and composition. I see the influences of Waterhouse, Burne-Jones, and Walter Crane in her work. Harrison is one of those rare ones, who impresses me more with her sense of color than her line. Her palette sets a comfortable dream-like tone, that her line work cannot.

While she did not publish mountains of material, these volumes mentioned above are like rare gems, few and far between but ever so valuable. Thanks to friend and colleague M. C. Waldrep for her work in By A Woman's Hand, and bringing more of Harrison's work to my attention.

And speaking of Goblin Market-
Out recently from Dover- Goblin Market By Christina Rosetti and Arthur Rackham. This small volume has been done as a hardcover gift book, making it quite a nice thing to, well, gift. There are just a few color pieces (all of the original ones) —but they are quite beautiful, and the book is embellished with many small line works, the original case design and endpapers are present, and a charming reprint of a color remarque that Rackham drew into an early edition copy. Nice addition to your Rackham library, at a reasonable price.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Complex line and thought; Frank Papé

Here's a fellow not likely to show up on your" best of the best" lists, and perhaps not likely to get his own gallery filled book, but someone who did some incredible work, line and color. I first found the work of Frank Cheyne Papé (1878-1972) while scouring titles for a compilation book. I've begun to keep an eye open for more, and when examined on a whole, it is a bit surprising that his was not a better known name.

The first thing one will find while looking for info on Frank Papé is back on the Bud Plant/Vadeboncoeur illustrators list—and it's as good a foundation as you're likely to dig up. Born in 1878, Papé was 22 in 1900, putting him in prime position to take advantage of the publishing rush of the Golden Age. His earlier work, in the 19-teens, seems to have been peppered with the Fairy-tale work that was prevalent at the time. The first two color pieces here, from A Russian Story Book, are from 1916—and show some mature and refined color sense. A few years later in 1921, Papé had some line work printed with James Branch Cabell's Jurgen. This wild tale involved a time traveler's exploits with various women through time and history—it was wild for the time, and quite controversial. The near banning of the book, combined with the quality of the fine line art, made the book a huge success when it finally made it to market. The attention given to Papé's work there was considerable, and it's acclaim steered Papé to stick with line as his signature style for years to come. The last two are from Tales from Shakespeare, and feature that same line style, and an unusual multicolor printing on a few plates as well.

In his later years, sometime after 1935, he appeared to have settled into the security of a staff job, art directing for a children's magazine in Chicago. Some brilliant stuff, and I'm sure there's more to be seen-