Sunday, April 24, 2011
A Master Fantasist— Sidney Sime
Many moons ago, I picked up a book at The Strand bookstore in NYC, on A British illustrator named Sidney Sime (1867-1941). The work in the book ( Sidney Sime: Master of the Mysterious, Thames and Hudson, 1980) is almost exclusively grayscale—and while he did do some color work, the majority of the work he presented during his active illustration years—was reproduced as halftone work. Sime worked early in his career for numerous publications, including The Paul Mall Magazine, Eureka, and The Idler (which Sime later owned and edited) . He had a penchant for strange, dream-like scenes, and a bit of surrealism, occasionally touched with a light dash of humor. In 1904, he made the aquaintence of Lord Dunsany. Dunsany was a writer— short stories and plays, mostly—whose writing was well matched with the imaginary places that Sime depicted. The pair began a working relationship that lasted through 6 volumes of illustrated tales, from 1905 to about 1916, with an few additional frontispieces for another decade. The work Sime did with Dunsany is the bulk of what we can see of his today, and a small amount of it survives in reprints.
The pairing complimented each other so well, that not only did Sime illustrate for Dunsany, but in 1912, Dunsany wrote a book of stories about existing Sime works. (The Book of Wonder) Sime's strange characters and fantastic settings influenced many artists after him, and his sense of mystery continues to entertain us today.
These images are a few of the ones I did not find so readily elsewhere. Though very little of Sime's color work is in print, I did find one piece in my files, from an Illustration House show, 20 years ago. There are many sites scattered around that feature a fair amount of Sime's work, one of the most teasing being that of his former home and museum/gallery in Worplesdon, England. Most of Sime's work was left to the town trustees, to establish a gallery. While they have done so, the site provides only a glimpse at very small images which we can't see anywhere else. Hopefully in time, more of that may emerge.
The third image is an enlarged detail from the second-