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• • • Being a journal by artist and designer John Coulthart, cataloguing interests, obsessions and passing enthusiasms.


 

Henry Keen’s Dorian Gray

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Returning to the golden boy again this week with an illustrated edition of Wilde’s novel from 1925. The publisher was Aubrey Beardsley’s old employer, John Lane, and the illustrator was Henry Keen, an artist of singular and dismaying obscurity. Perhaps some of my knowledgeable commenters can provide more information. Keen’s 12 plates look like lithographs but the book also featured ink embellishments and a splendid sunflower/butterfly design on the boards and slipcase.

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Dorian Goes Upstairs to the Locked Room Where His Portrait is Kept.

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Dorian Gray Lies Dead with a Knife in His Heart.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The illustrators archive
The Oscar Wilde archive

 


 

Posted in {art}, {books}, {design}, {fantasy}, {illustrators}.

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8 comments or trackbacks

  1. #1 posted by Callum

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    Hi John.

    Can’t help much but I can tell you that he also illustrated Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi (Bodley Head, 1930), Richard Garnett’s Twilight of the Gods (Dodd Mead & Co., 1924), and Voltaire’s Zadig and Other Romances (John Lane, 1926). These are not all first editions and I don’t know if Keen illustrated earlier ones.

    Regards

    Callum

  2. #2 posted by John

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    Thanks Callum. I noticed a tiny picture of Duchess on a bookseller’s page but didn’t know about the others. Odd that he’s so undocumented working for the Bodley Head, you’d think there’d be more known about him.

  3. #4 posted by Clive Christy

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    Hi there, Henry Keen was very famous in his short life(1899 – 1935). You’re on to something there about his life and the Bodley Head connection, as well as the lithography. He was indeed a
    book illustrator and lithographer and worked mostly in the symbolist/decadent kind of imagery…very much in the Beardsley tradition. He actually only illustrated luxury editions for the Bodley Head apart from the other illustrations he did for other books and publishers. The reason he is not really known nor remember is because he died young of tuberculosis.
    An amazing artist though. Hope it helps.

  4. #5 posted by John

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    Hi Clive. Many thanks for that, I often throw these posts out there in the hope that someone may offer further information. Death by TB isn’t surprising seeing as how the disease curtailed the lives of so many artists and writers in those times.

  5. #6 posted by Louis A. Irmo

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    Henry Keen also appeared in the quarterly magazine, The Golden Hind, edited by Clifford Bax & the occult artist Austin Osman Spare that last only 2 yrs, from 1922 to 1924. These illustrations are just as powerful and original as his book illustrations.
    About 20 yrs ago there was a major sale of his work in London. The only such sale that I am aware of.

  6. #7 posted by John

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    Hi Louis, and thanks. I’m familiar with The Golden Hind but didn’t know that Henry Keen was a contributor.

 




 

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