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.

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