Arthur Rackham: the most influential illustrator of 20th century?
Arthur Rackham was one of most popular illustrators for decades. Rackham's work is highly prized among collectors and he made impact on whole generations of younger illustrators.
Arthur Rackham is illustrator who's unique technique evolved through decades, until he finally made a breakthrough with Rip Van Winkle. This is the book where everything 'clicked'.
Rackham was studying the process of printing very closely. When the printers started using photography to transfer the original drawings to printing blocks, illustrators suddenly got much more options and Arthur Rackham used that fact to its full advance.
Here we go with my top 10 of best illustrations by Arthur Rackham!
(All images are Public Domain)
Would you like to know more about Aesop and his fables?
Here is my Top 10 fascinating facts about him and his work
Rip Van Winkle
This is an illustration from the book which gave Arthur Rackham enough reputation (and commissions) for the rest of the life. We can easily recognize signature brownish and greenish tones by which he stayed famous to the very end of his career.
Rip Van Winkle was (actually still is) very popular tale by Washington Irving.
Rackham's illustrations certainly contributed to the popularity of the book with almost perfect combination of improved printing technique and illustrator's specific interest in the world of shadows, fairy creatures and all kinds of mysteries.
We can also recognize one of Rackham's signatures: twisted trees sometimes even with limbs and faces.
Aesop's Fables by Arthur Rackham
The Lion, Jupiter and the Elephant
Rackham and brothers Grimm
Another important step in Rackham's career was illustrating the famous collection of Children's and Household Tales by brothers Grimm.
He actually illustrated the book in 1900 but due to success of Rip Van Winkle and its colored illustration, he reworked it again in 1909 with 40 color plates.
Arthur Rackham later claimed he preferred the older, black and white edition but I decided to include the beautiful illustration from Hansel and Gretel, not only because it is typical Rackham, but also because it is great example of his skimpy usage of red.
I guess he saw color red with all its symbolic power more as a spice than one of main elements in his fairyland.
Arthur Rackham's Alice
Many illustrators would kill for the opportunity to illustrate this classic work
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Ever heard about Arthur Rackham?
Arthur Rackham's Undine
Undine is a romance by today's standard, but it was probably most popular fairy tale in 19th century
Undine by Arthur Rackham
Despite the fact it is not a fairy tale by today's standards I have to add Undine inspired one of most popular fairy tales with unhappy ending ever: Little Mermaid written by Hans Christian Andersen.
When we talk about tales about missed opportunities and melancholy, we certainly must add at least one scene from Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens:
This face looks familiar?
Shall we check another self portrait in Rackham's works?
Looks like a photography, huh?
Scene from The Rainbow Book Adventures in Wizard Land
The Rainbow Book Adventures in Wizard...
And this is how Rackham portrayed seven dwarfs
Snowdrop and seven dwarfs
We will add another comparison. This time Rackham in different technique - silhouettes. On the left we can easily recognize famous scene from The Sleeping Beauty, interesting fairy tale which is considered as one of most famous classics without folk background.
On the right we have almost the same scene from old myth retold in Wagner's Siegfried (third part of Ring of the Nibelung). The hero will save the Valkyrie and ...
Well, if you want to see the complete setting of this epic cycle, I can direct you to illustrated post about The Ring of Nibelung!
The Sleeping Beauty for kids
The Sleeping Beauty
The Sleeping Beauty for adults
The Sleeping Beauty
Check this calendar with Rackham's illustrations
Rackham's illustrations inspired many artists and this calendar is only one of many cool products available to all the fans of this influential illustrator and his mythological world of gnomes, wizards, dragons, elves and warriors.
This is 2013 version and it is found on Zazzle. I bet there will be soon versions for next years available...
Once again: Arthur Rackham's Ring of Nibelung as calendar!
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