Tag Archives: Illustrations

Alexander Golovin’s Costume designs for ‘The Firebird’ (1910)

14 Feb

Igor Stravinsky’s ballet The Firebird was written for the 1910 season of Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes. Premiered on 25 June 1910, it was an instant success. The Firebird was one of the three ballets composed for Ballets Russes by Stravinsky, along with Petrushka (1911) and The Rite of Spring (1913). It was based on a story from Slavic folklore about a magical Firebird – a bird that can be both a curse and a blessing to its owner. Although the bird is described as having glowing eyes, feathers ‘brightly emitting red, orange, and yellow light, like a bonfire that is just past the turbulent flame'(*), in  Stravinsky’s ballet, the creature is half-woman, half-bird. Most of the costumes were designed by Alexander Golovin, but some were done by Leon Bakst. Diaghilev also said that ‘Art… is important only as an expression of creator’s personality‘.

This page here has a lot of pictures of costumes, dancers etc. for Ballet Russes, in chronological order! I was mesmerised for hours after seeing all those gorgeous costumes and illustrations. I read somewhere this phrase which best sums up the greatness and importance of Ballet Russes: ‘Serge Diaghilev – The man who introduced the world to the beauty and originality of Russian culture.‘A few more pages about this ballet: here, here. I originally found the pictures on a tumblr called russian-style.

Harry Clarke’s illustrations for Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen

16 Dec

I’ve already shared Harry Clarke’s illustrations with you, and I’m doing it again because these illustration are so irresistibly magical, colourful, vivid and psychedelic. I really enjoyed gazing at them, and I hope you’ll feel the same.

Harry Clarke, Fairy Tales By Hans Christian Andersen 3 Harry Clarke, Fairy Tales By Hans Christian Andersen 5 Harry Clarke, Fairy Tales By Hans Christian Andersen 4 Harry Clarke, Fairy Tales By Hans Christian Andersen 2 Harry Clarke, Fairy Tales By Hans Christian Andersen 1

Harry Clarke’s Illustrations for Edgar Allan Poe’s Stories (1919)

10 Nov

poe illustration 1 poe illustration 2 poe illustration 3 poe illustration 4 poe illustration 5 poe illustration 6 poe illustration 7 poe illustration 8

Gothic Imagination of Henry Fuseli – Shakespearean Scenes

23 Oct

Henry Fuseli not only announced the art movement of Romanticism with his painting The Nightmare, but also created one of the most original, fantastical and darkly beautiful paintings of Romantic era, influenced some other Romantic minds such as William Blake, and indulged his Gothic imagination and his interest in Shakespeare by illustrating some of his plays in a beautiful macabre manner. Also, Fuseli’s work is ideal for all you lovers of sublime in art.

1790. Henry Fuseli - Titania and Bottom Titania and Bottom, Henry Fuseli, 1790

Although Henry Fuseli (1741-1825) was born almost thirty years before the majority of Romantic painters, his most famous work ‘The Nightmare‘ (1781) is almost avant-garde; very progressive in many aspects – its theme, dark eroticism, dreams, the unconsciousness, mysteries, all announced the arrival of a new art movement that would put emphasis on the subjective, intimate, mysterious and emotional – the Romanticism. One of the four main themes of Romanticism is the ‘mystical and occult’; a theme which seems to have been a particular favourite of Henry Fuseli, a lover of the night sky and supernatural in art.

As an artist Fuseli connects the spirit of Neoclassicism and Romanticism. While his paintings are conventionally executed, and his compositions fairly classical, his themes are certainly not. Es evident from his most famous work, The Nightmare, he was fascinated with fantastical and horrifying motifs, and, just like Romanticists, he showed a particular interest in history and illustrated scenes from Shakespeare’s plays just like William Blake who created drawings and paintings under the influenced of Fuseli. It’s not surprising that Shakespeare’s vivid imagination was appealing to Fuseli, if we think about some of the plays he has written: gloomy Scotland in the 11th century, a selfish and ambitious king, three witches and a ghost of a murdered man – Macbeth, tragic lovers and victims of two families in feud, passions and suicides – Romeo and Juliet, a play about jealousy, reality and surreal events, lovers and death of Desdemona – Othello, and of course the first existentialist character in literature, insanity, skulls, ghosts, poor maiden Ophelia – Hamlet: it’s easy to see why Shakespeare’s themes would be appealing to Fuseli and Romanticists in general who considered Shakespeare as their role-model.

Dark, dreamy and fantastical is the atmosphere of Fuseli’s illustrations of Shakespeare’s plays. It seems like the characters on the painting are brought to focus, painted in a typical late eighteenth, early nineteenth century manner, while the rest of the scene is engulfed in darkness: this way Fuseli shows his specialty in painting technique, the play of light and shadow. It suits perfect for these Shakespeare scenes because it seem like the characters live in a world of darkness, and also, Fuseli may be reminding us that these paintings portray scenes from plays. Characters are in the spotlight, and the surrounding darkness perhaps symbolises the far corners on the stage. Fuseli excels in setting his figures in motion, and he spent seven years in Rome so his paintings of bodies are all due to studying Michelangelo’s work.

The Dream of Queen Katherine (from William Shakespeare’s ‘Henry VIII’, Act IV, Scene 2) (fragment), Henry Fuseli

1809. Romeo stabs Paris at the bier of Juliet - Henry FuseliRomeo stabs Paris at the bier of Juliet – Henry Fuseli, 1809

1793-94. Macbeth Consulting the Vision of the Armed Head. By Henry Fuseli,Macbeth Consulting the Vision of the Armed Head, Henry Fuseli, 1793-94

1780-85. Hamlet, Horatio, Marcellus, and the Ghost of Hamlet's Father. Henry Fuseli,Hamlet, Horatio, Marcellus, and the Ghost of Hamlet’s Father, Henry Fuseli, 1780-85

1812. Johann Heinrich Füssli - Lady Macbeth with the DaggersLady Macbeth with the Daggers, Henry Fuseli, 1812

Illustrations – Fairies, Myths and Magic

4 Jun

Illustrations by Warwick Goble, Arthur Rackham and Edmund Dulac – a rather cheerful topic on this ‘damp and lonely Thursday‘.

My mother used to read to me every night when I was little, not only those common children’s books such as Grimm’s fairy tales, Peter Pan, Pippi Longstocking or Alice in Wonderland, but all sorts of myths and legends: Native American myths and legends, Persian fairy tales, stories from ‘One Thousand and One Nights’, and tales from Scandinavian and Slavic folklore. I’ll forever be grateful for the time she spent reading to me and the variety of cultures she introduced me to because all of these things made me an open-minded person that I am. Later I read The Lords of the Rings by myself and entered the magical world of Arhurian legends, but it all started from there: me sitting in my mother’s lap and listening with excitement to her imitations of the characters’ voices. ‘You only have to read the lines, They’re scribbly black and everything shines.‘ (Syd Barrett) I think the best thing you can do for children is to read to them.

When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty, I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”- C. S. Lewis

All three artists were book illustrators, mostly remembered for their magical illustrations of fairy tales and children’s stories. Although I love all of their illustrations, I must say that Warwick Goble’s work appeals to me the most because he specialised in Japanese and Indian themes. Different cultures always excited me. I like his usage of sombre colours and a mystic mood of his night scenes, not to mention the beautiful lotus flowers, fairies and interesting clothes.

Warwick Goble - Elfen & Boeken1909. Warwick Goble 4 1909. Warwick Goble 5 1910. The peony lantern. Warwick Goble, from Green Willow and other Japanese fairy tales, by Grace James, London She took up the jewel in her hand, left the palace, and successfully reached the upper world. A Warwick Goble illustration. Sita finds Rama among the Lotus blooms - Warwick Goble, Indian Myth and Legend Warwick Goble - Cancee and the Falcon, Warwick Goble

"Do as you list, I will be ever known your thrall" - The Complete Poetical Works of Geoffrey Chaucer (1912)

“Do as you list, I will be ever known your thrall” – The Complete Poetical Works of Geoffrey Chaucer (1912)

Warwick Goble ~ Enchanted Princess Warwick Goble 10 Warwick Goble 12 Warwick Goble, The Water Babies Warwick Goble 13

Arthur Rackham was a well-known British illustrator, most active in the first three decades of the twentieth century. I particularly like his illustrations of Alice in Wonderland (1907) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1908). The first illustration you can see down below is my favourite ever depiction of Alice; I just love all those cards flying around. I must say that many of Rackham’s illustrations have a sinister mood, Pandora’s Box for example, or his depiction of trees and those maidens with their hair floating on the water.

1907. Alice in Wonderland - by Arthur Rackham

Arthur Rackham Fairy Illustrations Pandora

Pandora’s Box

 

Arthur Rackham Alice in Wonderland Arthur Rackham Watercolor, pen & ink

Arthur Rackham - illustration from 'A Midsummer-Night's Dream' 1907. Elena by Arthur Rackham (from 'A Midsummer's Night Dream) 1908. A midsummer night’s dream by Arthur Rackham 1910s Beautiful Arthur Rackham illustration for A Midsummer Night's Dream 1907. Arthur Rackham - Alice in Wonderland 2  ‘A midsummer night’s dream’ by William Shakespeare Arthur Rackham Illustration by Arthur Rackham 6 Illustration by Arthur Rackham 3 Illustration by Arthur Rackham 1 Undine is a fairy-tale novella by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué illustrated by Arthur Rackham in 1909.

Edmund Dulac was a French-born but British naturalised magazine and book illustrator. As soon as he arrived in London at the age of twenty-two, he was commissioned to illustrate Jane Eyre and other novels by Bronte sisters. He went on to become a prolific artist with a diverse oeuvre, having illustrated all sorts of themes, from The Arabian Nights (1907) to Edgar Allan Poe’ poems in 1912. I like his illustrations of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (1909), and, as you can see below, he beautifully painted the sea in his illustrations of Little Mermaid; castle under the sea, the waves – it’s all just the way I imagined it.

Night, The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam - illustration by Edmund Dulac

The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (1909)

Edmund Dulac Illustration 4 Edmund Dulac Illustration 7 Edmund Dulac Illustration 9 Edmund Dulac Illustration 3 Edmund Dulac, Beauty and the Beast Edmund Dulac Annabel Lee (from Edgar Allan Poe's poem) 1912 Ye elves to hills, brooks, standing lakes, and groves ~ Elves and Fairies, illustration for The Tempest, by Edmund Dulac. The Princess and the Pea', illustrated by Edmund Dulac Stories from the Arabian Nights, 1911 Illustrations by Edmund Dulac The Little Mermaid – illustrator Edmund DulacEdmund Dulac - The Nightingale

And just one more illustration from the similar time period, ‘The Court of Faerie’ (1906) by Thomas Maybank

1906. The Court of Faerie (1906) by Thomas Maybank

Isn’t it a shame that modern illustrations aren’t as interesting or as imaginative as they once were?