Tite Street then and now


This LIFE magazine photo of Oscar Wilde’s home at 34 Tite Street, Chelsea, is fascinating for Wilde aficionados in being a far more detailed view of the “House Beautiful” exterior than one ever finds in books about the writer. No information as to when it was taken but from the look of the print it was probably some time just before or after 1900.


Google Earth lets us examine Tite Street as it is today, with Oscar’s house looking relatively unchanged aside from the blue plaque which informs people that he once lived there. What you can’t see in this picture is the opposite side of the street which now contains a particularly dreary housing development from the 1960s. Oscar and his contemporaries in the area—many of whom were artists—wouldn’t have been impressed at all.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The Oscar Wilde archive

Salomé posters


Salome (1918).

You can’t keep a bad girl down… Attempting to gather all the painted representations of Salomé would be a foolish enterprise, there are far too many especially when you reach the 19th century, an age whose misogyny found an ideal expression in the emasculating temptress. Searching through 20th century adaptations yields some interesting works, however.

Theda Bara’s film pre-dates the more flamboyant Nazimova version by five years, and since I haven’t seen it I’ve no idea how it holds up today. But from the look of the stills and posters it seems far closer to the usual historical fare than the stylised version which followed.

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London Underground posters


top left: Power by Edward McKnight Kauffer; top right: Speed Underground by Alan Rogers
bottom left: Which? by Maurice Beck; bottom right: St Paul’s Cathedral by Robert Sargent Austin

A small sample of the many great posters commissioned by London Transport during the last century, part of the collection at the London Transport Museum. These are all from the 1930s. The design and iconography of London’s Underground system has occupied much of my attention this year due to a substantial book project; more about that later. Meanwhile, Jonathan Glancey was asking earlier this week whether the expansion of the Underground system means the end of Harry Beck’s classic and much-imitated map design.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Battersea Power Station
The Mentor
The art of Cassandre, 1901–1968

Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown DVD


It’s that thing again…

There’s much to loathe about this time of year—the short and dismal days whose appalling weather will persist until mid-March, the trees denuded at last of their leaves, the Chinese Water Torture of Xmas trivia—but the post this week at least brought some compensations. As well as the copies of Dodgem Logic there was a box of Penguin book cover postcards which I won in a Guardian Books giveaway, and also the long-awaited arrival of Frank Woodward’s documentary Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown on DVD. I’ve mentioned this latter work before, of course, but I’ll repeat that it’s the best documentary to date concerning the life and career of HPL, and features several pieces of my own artwork as well as contributions from other fine Lovecraftian illustrators. Among the interviewees are Neil Gaiman, John Carpenter, Guillermo Del Toro, Caitlin R Kiernan, Peter Straub, Ramsey Campbell and Lovecraft scholar ST Joshi. The DVD is only Region 1/NTSC at the moment, but is available also as a Blu-ray disc if you need to see the aforementioned in high-definition. The film runs for 90-minutes and the disc includes an additional 70-minutes of interviews, a Lovecraft art gallery and more. Essential viewing for all aficionados.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Lovecraft in Los Angeles