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Archive for the ‘Jane Austen illustrators’ Category

Gentle Readers,

What better way to resume my blog than with Jessica Purser’s lovely Jane Austen post cards and bookmarks? I apologize for my unexcused silence. Life simply caught up with me, and due to a schedule that overwhelmed me because of work and family obligations, I had to cut back on my blog, and Facebook and Twitter comments. I did keep up with my Pinterest boards, for I found that cataloging images was as relaxing as playing solitaire. Whenever I found 10 spare minutes here and there (while waiting, watching the news or a television show, or during a solitary meal), I would pin. I want to thank those who persisted in contacting me (and who I needlessly worried) and who coached me to return to my blogging duties a little earlier than I had planned. Jessica Purser sent these lovely cards and notes for me to review in July. They certainly deserved my immediate attention and not such a long wait.

JPurser_PrideandPrejudice.jpg

I placed a number of the images on my table. Sorry about the quality of the images. I have interspersed them with images from Jessica Purser’s Etsy site.

I am sure that many of you have already viewed samples of Jess’s images on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Twitter, but I couldn’t help sharing these cute interpretations of Jane Austen’s characters anyway.

Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy

Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy

Ms. Purser sent me quite a few samples, which I photographed (rather clumsily, I must admit). I am also featuring a number of images from her Etsy site.

persuasion_pride_purser.jpg

Anne and Captain Wentworth in Persuasion, and Bingley proposing to Jane in Pride and Prejudice

I can’t think of a better way to restart my blog than to share Jess’s wonderful creations with you. They are painted on pages of Jane Austen’s novels, which provide context.

Emma and Mr. Knightley

Emma and Mr. Knightley

The postcards are printed on hardy card stock and the larger images are suitable for framing. I have been using the bookplates and bookmarks, and sharing them with friends.

Bookmarks and book plates. How lovely.

Bookmarks and book plates. How lovely.

Thank you, Jessica, for this lovely art work.

Jess's book marks

Jess’s book marks

Jessica PurserRead more about Jessica in this Interview with Jessica Purser on Rockalily Cuts

Order her art work at: Castle on the Hill, Jessica’s Etsy Shop

 

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Sewell, The Bennet sisters

Sewell, The Bennet sisters. The photos do not capture the detail of each image.

This year we celebrate all things Pride and Prejudice in honor of the novel’s 200 year anniversary. Just recently, Ruby Lane sold a rare, out of print, limited 1940 edition of Pride and Prejudice, illustrated by Helen Sewell, an illustrator of mainly children’s books. People today still recognize the original drawings she created for the Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House books.

Helen Sewell

Helen Sewell

About Helen Sewell

Sewell was born June 27, 1896 at Mare Island Navy Yard, California. Her family moved to Guam shortly afterward, where her father, William Elbridge Sewell, served as Governor.

Education

Sewell wanted to be an artist since the age of eight. At 12 years old, she began attending Pratt Institute’s Saturday classes and by 16 years of age was enrolled there full time. This was in place of completing high school. At Pratt, she studied classes with Alexander Archipenko, who was the underlying influence for her broken-cylinder figures.

"Not handsome enough"

“Not handsome enough”

mrs bennet

Mrs. Bennet

Sewell began her long career working on Christmas and greeting cards; her first illustrated publication was in 1923. She primarily illustrated children’s books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Elizabeth Coatsworth, Eleanor Farjeon, and Frances Clarke Sayer. As with Pride and Prejudice and a 1957 edition of Sense and Sensibility, Sewell also created drawings for a small number of adult publications

Unguarded moments shows the full page illustration

Unguarded moments shows the full page illustration

Sewell’s style included a simple use of color, which at times eliminated black all together, and her use of the white paper.  Her line drawings were in imitation of 19th century steel engravings. She died in 1957 at the age of 61.

Illustration of the Gardiners on page 324

Illustration of the Gardiners on page 324

About the Limited 1940 edition of Pride and Prejudice

coverThe image at right is of a hardcover, green marbled slipcase. Quarter binding, green marbled board cover, with  brown faux leather spine. Heritage edition illustrations are signed by the illustrator. (The commercial issue would have fewer illustrations for the ordinary book buyer.) It is said that photographic images do the drawings no justice, for they are quite detailed when seen in person.

 

darcy and elizabeth

Darcy and Elizabeth dancing

sewell illustration

This limited edition book sold for $74 at Ruby Lane. I would gladly have paid more. Other limited edition books are selling for as much as $900 per copy. (Click on images for a larger view.)

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Even rarer than a first edition of a Jane Austen novel are images taken of her during her short lifetime. A small watercolor by her sister Cassandra has been reworked over the centuries to make Jane look more attractive. Another watercolor image taken of Jane’s backside as she sits in the grass, a dark silhouette, a small watercolor by James Stanier Clark, and a portrait of Jane at 14 (the validity of the latter two are in question) are all that we have to go by. Verbal descriptions of Jane Austen are also quite rare, and some seem to contradict each other, a few relatives and friends thinking her quite pretty and others declaring that her looks were rather ordinary.

Anna Lefroy

In 1864, Anna Lefroy, Jane Austen’s niece and James Edward Austen-Leigh’s sister, wrote her memories of Aunt Jane in a letter for Edward’s memoir. She apologized that her recollections were so shadowy and that she was unable to grasp anything of substance. She did recall that Jane and Cassandra wore pattens when they walked between Dean and Steventon in “wintry weather through the sloppy lanes”. Pattens, or shoe coverings that protected delicate shoes, were worn by gentlewomen at that time, but they would soon go out of fashion. Anna also described Jane as having a tall and elegant figure, and a “quick firm step,” an observation that she shared with others.

Anna goes on to relate one particularly sweet family story of a 7 year-old Jane and her 3 year-old brother Charles greeting Cassandra, who was returning from a visit with Dr. and Mrs. Cooper at Bath. Jane and Charles had toddled down the lane “as far as New Down to meet the chaise, & have the pleasure of riding home in it.” While the popular perception was that Jane and Cassandra were inseparable, they spent a great deal of time apart.

Young Cassandra frequently visited the Coopers in Bath, and as an adult became a regular guest at Godmersham, her brother Edward’s estate. She was a favorite with the family there, but the young Godmersham children were not quite as fond of Jane. This was not the case with the Jane’s other nieces and nephews, all of whom liked her exceedingly as a playfellow and a teller of stories. In her letter, Anna bemoaned the loss of Jane’s verbal stories, those “happy tales of invention” that she wove out of nothing.

Jane’s niece wrote this observation about her aunt’s image:

“Her complexion of that rather rare sort which seems the peculiar property of light brunettes. A mottled skin, not fair, but perfectly clear & healthy in hue; the fine naturally curling hair, neither light nor dark; the bright hazel eyes to match, & the rather small but well shaped nose.”

Anna concludes, as Cassandra’s portrait attests, that Jane failed to be a decidedly handsome woman. Seventeen years younger than Jane, one wonders if Anna was thinking of an older, more mature Jane, the one who had taken to wearing caps at all times, rather than a younger and prettier Jane with bright sparkling eyes and full round cheeks.

Other posts on this blog about Jane’s image and character sit below:

Le Faye, Deirdre. Anna Lefroy’s Original Memories of Jane Austen. The Review of English Studies, New Series, Oxford University Press, Vol 39, #155 (Aug, 1988), pp 417-421.

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At the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century, the Brock Brothers, Charles Edmund and Henry Matthew, created the illustrations that we have come to associate with Jane Austen’s novels (C.E.) and other classics (H.M.). Find an excellent short description of the differences in the brothers’ styles in the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum link below.

Charles Brock (1870-1938), a skilled colourist who studied art briefly with sculptor Henry Wiles, is best known for his line work and delicate illustrations for Jane Austen’s novels. This PDF New York Times article from 1912, To Please the Eye, offers a contemporary and glowing review of one of his illustrated novels. Charles shared a studio with his younger brother Henry, who was born in 1875. Henry studied at the Cambridge School of Art and by the early 1900s was one of Britain’s most popular illustrators. The younger brother lived until the 1960’s, and some of his vintage illustrations are still quite fresh today

Learn more about the brothers in the links below:

  • Click here for more information and a contemporary assessment about the brothers in English Book-illustration of Today By Rose Esther Dorothea Sketchley, Alfred W. Pollard, 1903.

Illustration: C.E. Brock, Emma

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Google books is simply an amazing online library resource. Since Google began to scan and digitize the books that sit in the world’s great libraries (at Harvard, Yale, and the University of Virginia, for example), authors, book sellers, and book publishers have been up in arms. Until the legalities are resolved, we can take advantage of the convenience of finding books that are often not in the public domain from the comfort of our homes. Unless they are entirely free of copyright infringement, most of the books that you can access through Google book search are partially complete. One can still glean an enormous amount of information in those partial books, however. Obscure authors of out-of-print books seem to be less incensed by this practice than their publishing houses, since their words are once again seeing the light of day and being READ. (Click on the links below to read more details about the controversy.)

One of my favorite finds is the Illustrated Jane Austen, a compilation of Jane’s six great books and two additional minor works. I have been reading Emma and Sense and Sensibility in anticipation of the last two airings of The Complete Jane Austen on PBS. You can imagine how delighted I was to view the illustrations by Hugh Thomson in this digitized book.

  • Click here to read Google’s rationalization for scanning the world’s books
  • And here is an assessment of the situation from Law.com
  • Click here to read my other post about Hugh Thomson

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