The book illustrations of John Dickson Batten (1860–1932) turn up in collections of Victorian and Edwardian art but his name isn’t as familiar as that of his contemporaries, possibly because he was also pursuing a career as a painter. Prior to finding this volume I’d only seen a couple of his drawings before.
The Book of Wonder Voyages (1919) was one of several collaborations with writer Joseph Jacobs, a retelling of mythic seafaring which includes Jason and the Argonauts but surprisingly omits other well-known examples such as Odysseus and Sinbad. In their stead we have The Voyage of Maelduin, Hasan of Bassorah, and The Journeyings of Thorkill and Eric the Far-Travelled. Batten’s drawings remind me of Patten Wilson, especially in the full pages, although Wilson was the more dedicated stylist. This isn’t necessarily the best of Batten’s work, however. Browse the rest of the book here or download it here. There’ll be more Batten tomorrow.