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


 

Robert Anning Bell’s Tempest

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British artist and designer Robert Anning Bell (1863–1933) illustrates Shakespeare in this 1901 edition at the Internet Archive and the work seemed to give him an excuse to embellish many of the pages with writhing mer-folk. His adaptation isn’t as striking as William Heath Robinson’s Midsummer Night’s Dream from 1914 but then few books are. In style Bell is closer to his contemporary Charles Ricketts with very open line work and no heavy black areas. Ricketts produced his own version of Ariel’s Song to Ferdinand for The Magazine of Art in 1895 but doesn’t seem to have illustrated much more of The Tempest as far as I’m aware, although his Vale Press did issue an edition of Shakespeare’s complete works. It hadn’t occurred to me before how few illustrated editions there are of The Tempest; this seems surprising given the fantastic nature of the story. It might be that illustrated plays have never sold so well despite there having been a number of illustrated Midsummer Night’s Dreams. I’d love to have seen Harry Clarke tackling Ariel and Caliban.

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Also at the Internet Archive is a 1902 edition of Shelley’s poems illustrated by Bell (above) and an 1897 edition of Keats in the same series (below). Great poetry doesn’t necessarily lend itself to illustration so it’s no surprise that these books are less interesting than the Shakespeare.

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Bell later reworked his illustration for Keats’s Ode to Psyche as a painting which he called Cupid’s Visit. I much prefer the drawing to the painting.

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Cupid’s Visit (1912).

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The illustrators archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Charles Ricketts’ Hero and Leander
Another Midsummer Night
Arthur Rackham’s Midsummer Night’s Dream
The art of Charles Robinson, 1870–1937
William Heath Robinson’s Midsummer Night’s Dream

 


 

Posted in {art}, {black and white}, {books}, {fantasy}, {illustrators}, {magazines}, {painting}, {theatre}.

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One comment or trackbacks

  1. #1 posted by Thombeau

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    Wonderful post! Incidentally, The Tempest was the last real play I was in, about a hundred years ago. I was Trinculo!

 


 

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