Arthur Rackham Illustration Essay

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Arthur Rackham (1867-1939), the most well known Illustrator of his time. His work brought life to many different stories such as the Grimm’s fairy tales, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and many of Shakespeare’s work. Rackham approach to these tales is full of ‘grace and grotesque’, it is often that in the same image, Rackham would have a beautiful young girl and an old wrinkled creature. The drawing also include so much raw emotion Rackham’s work possesses a style of line and colour use that were very prominent in the Art Nouveau movement (1890-1914), a style that has is starting become popular again a century later. Rackham became a full time artist at the young age of 25 as a reporter and illustrator for The Westminster Budget and also did some small book illustration jobs, but it wasn’t until he was 37 (1905) that his career took off with the publication of Rip Van Winkle. The years following his rise to fame were very productive. Making work for over 30 different tales, averaging 13 colour plates for each project. My favourite works Rackham did were his Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Apart from loving the story Carroll wrote, I think Rackham’s illustrations are so beautiful and fit the story perfectly. My favourite from this series of drawings is Advice from a Caterpillar. Done in 1907, the 24.5 x 16 cm drawing is only a few cm smaller than A4 but shows such intricate line work.

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