Edmund Dulac’s Sinbad the Sailor

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I mentioned Edmund Dulac’s Sinbad book in an earlier post but didn’t show many his illustrations on that occasion so here they are. Most of these pictures are a long way from Ray Harryhausen’s Sturm und Drang but they’re not without their complement of monsters and afreets.

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Sinbad the Sailor & Other Stories from the Arabian Nights was published in 1914. No author is credited, which suggests the text might have been by Dulac himself but it’s more likely to be another retelling of the tales by Laurence Housman with whom Dulac collaborated on similar titles. Sinbad the Sailor is one of Dulac’s best books, a prime example of the ease with which he could combine influences from Persian miniatures, Chinese painting and Japanese prints all done in the watercolour technique employed by contemporaries such as Arthur Rackham.

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The plate at the top of this post showing a princess battling an afreet made a striking cover image for the American edition of Fantasy: The Golden Age of Fantastic Illustration (1975) by Brigid Peppin, a study of book illustration from the 1860s to the 1920s. The British edition used a Dulac illustration from The Snow Queen which seems dull in comparison, and an odd choice for a volume filled with so much exceptional art. The book itself is an excellent collection, however, and one I’d recommend to anyone interested in this period of illustration.

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Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The illustrators archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Edmund Dulac’s Tanglewood Tales
Edmund Dulac’s Tempest
Edmund Dulac’s Sleeping Beauty and Other Fairy Tales
More Arabian Nights

8 thoughts on “Edmund Dulac’s Sinbad the Sailor”

  1. Thanks John. Very nice. Love the reference to Hokusai’s The Great Wave in the third plate. The illustrations of the big bird and snake are stunning.

  2. Instead of “they’re not without their complement of monsters and afreets”, I read “they’re not without their competent monsters and afreets”.
    Possibly because I looked at the images before I read the text, and found the creatures most competent.

  3. Of course in our benighted generation all this would be denounced as “orientalism” and “cultural appropriation”. Imagine what they would do to Ray Harryhausen! Shhhhhhhh…! What they don’t know (which is a lot) won’t hurt them.

  4. I disregard those complaints because the people who make them are impossible to satisfy. Give them and inch and they always take a mile. All art borrows and remixes, and there are no greater borrowers than the Japanese. I think it was Freddie deBoer who made the point that people who want to keep cultures pure and unadulterated by foreign influence are commonly known as nationalists or supremacists.

    Re: Harryhausen, Godzilla was an “appropriation” of The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms.

  5. Thanks for these images and reminding me that I still have the Peppin book, which I bought in the 1970s. Time for a return look.

  6. Beautiful artwork, always worth looking at again (and again). I agree with Stephen’s sentiment above. Of course, Dulac could have even worse detractors. I certainly know of one picture in which Dulac commits the terrible blasphemy of actually drawing Mohammed (PBUH, and all that crap). I could specify but maybe better not.

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