RS Sherriffs’ Tamburlaine the Great

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I would have posted this by now if it hadn’t been for the recent unpleasantness. Robert Stewart Sherriffs (1906-60) was a Scottish artist who I confess I hadn’t come across before until Nick H (thanks, Nick!) drew my attention to this book at silver-gryph’s eBay pages. Sherriffs’ illustrated edtion of The Life and Death of Tamburlaine the Great by Christopher Marlowe was published in a limited edition in 1930.

The drawings are black-and-white throughout, and of such a quality you have to wonder why Dover or someone hasn’t done a reprint. The general approach owes much to the usual suspects, notably Aubrey Beardsley and Harry Clarke, but there’s a development of these earlier styles that you also find in the work of Ray Frederick Coyle and Beresford Egan. In addition to the full-page plates Sherriffs also provided a number of insect vignettes, the last of which is a Death’s-head Hawkmoth.

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Antony Little’s echoes of Aubrey

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The Dancer (1967) by Antony Little.

My thanks to Sweet Jane this time for alerting me to her post about a series of Beardsley-inspired illustrations from 1967 by Biba designer Antony Little. The Wandering Jew and Other Stories was the first translation in English of Apollinaire’s 1910 collection L’Hérèsiarque et Cie. I’ve known about this book for a while but few of the illustrations have been on view anywhere until this post. There are eight in all, each of them very adeptly capturing different phases of Beardsley’s drawing style, from the spare black-and-whites to the more detailed renderings seen in his later work. The drawing below is another in the series from a post of Callum’s which also includes a favourite of mine by Beresford Egan.

Little’s designs, and the prominence of the Biba stores, did much to make Art Nouveau in general, and Beardsley in particular, a crucial component of London fashion in the late 1960s. For more on that subject see this Sweet Jane post featuring yet more Beardsley borrowings and monochrome design, plus Osborne & Little’s fantastic Chinese Dragon wallpaper which made a memorable appearance last year in Only God Forgives.

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Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The illustrators archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Aubrey in LIFE
Beardsley reviewed
Aubrey Beardsley in The Studio
Ads for The Yellow Book
Beardsley and His Work
Further echoes of Aubrey
A Wilde Night
Echoes of Aubrey
After Beardsley by Chris James
Illustrating Poe #1: Aubrey Beardsley
Beardsley’s Rape of the Lock
The Savoy magazine
Beardsley at the V&A
Merely fanciful or grotesque
Aubrey Beardsley’s musical afterlife
Aubrey by John Selwyn Gilbert
“Weirdsley Daubery”: Beardsley and Punch
Alla Nazimova’s Salomé

Further echoes of Aubrey

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Dorian Gray (1924) by Otto Verhagen (1885–1951).

If you need an idea of the colossal impact Aubrey Beardsley’s drawing had on the art world of the 1890s consider that the entirety of his career—from his first public exposure in The Studio in 1893 to his very untimely death in 1898—lasted a mere five years. Decades afterwards artists around the world were still imitating his style. The later disciples are so numerous and so widespread it’s no surprise if some have yet to be fully acknowledged by subsequent generations. Sander Bink who maintains the Rond1900 site sent copies of these drawings (from Lopende Vuurtjes, Verloren Publishers, 2012) and provided some information about the artists:

Verhagen was a government official for most of his life and seems to have led a very respected life and made his Beardsley-esque work privately, no expositions as far is I know. Gockinga appears to have led a more interesting life: born in Indonesia, lived in Holland 1908–1922, the Indonesia (Java) again, then New York, and the Indonesia and after wwii Amsterdam, probably homosexual. Had one exposition of his work in 1917.

Sander’s site has further examples of Verhagen’s drawings, and he says that both artists were probably inspired by Carel (or Karel) de Nerée, some of whose work was featured here a while back. Always good to have the dots joined. Verhagen’s Dorian Gray is a curious piece; in style it’s a little like the angular drawings that Beresford Egan was producing in the 1920s, while the subject can’t be Dorian himself unless it’s a rendering of his aged portrait. As for Gockinga’s drawing, it’s a lot more faithful to Beardsley’s early style (complete with phallic extrusions) than the poor Nichols fakes that appeared in 1919. If you want a successful forgery it’s always best to find someone with talent.

(Thanks Sander!)

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Old lady with ghost (c.1916) by René Gockinga (1893–1962).

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

Previously on { feuilleton }
A Wilde Night
Echoes of Aubrey
After Beardsley by Chris James
Illustrating Poe #1: Aubrey Beardsley
The art of Karel de Nerée tot Babberich, 1880–1909
Beardsley’s Rape of the Lock
The Savoy magazine
Beardsley at the V&A
Merely fanciful or grotesque
Aubrey Beardsley’s musical afterlife
Aubrey by John Selwyn Gilbert
“Weirdsley Daubery”: Beardsley and Punch
Alla Nazimova’s Salomé