A Czech Machen


Cover art is a detail from A Woman on a Path by a Cottage (1882) by John Atkinson Grimshaw.

The fiction of Arthur Machen doesn’t inspire a great deal of illustration, probably because his best writing is more concerned with the description of particular places and the feelings those places evoke, rather than the depiction of illustratable scenes or events. I did make the attempt myself, however, when I started a series of illustrations in 1990 that were intended for a Savoy Books edition of The White People. This never materialised for a variety of reasons, and I never finished the series of drawings although the work did yield one picture (below), that I’ve always been pleased with.


Some of these drawings may now be seen in Temnota nepomíjí, an edition of Machen’s stories from Czech publisher, Malvern, almost all of which are appearing for the first time in translation. I’m told by the translator, Patrik Linhart, that the title in English would be “Darkness is undying”. As for the cover art, I approve the choice of John Atkinson Grimshaw, a painter whose sombre, autumnal views could cover an entire series of Machen books. His work is often seen today in connection with MR James but being a predominantly urban artist his work seems a better match for the Apostle of Wonder.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Ibrahim Ineke’s The White People
The White People
The Bowmen by Arthur Machen
Rex Ingram’s The Magician
The Great God Pan

Lunar observations


Seashore by Moonlight (between 1660 and 1664) by Egbert van der Poel.

The moon in art. A wide-ranging theme so there’ll be more tomorrow.


Two Men Contemplating the Moon (1820) by Caspar David Friedrich.


Cornfield in Moonlight (c. 1830) by Samuel Palmer.

Continue reading “Lunar observations”



November Morning, Knostrop Hall, Leeds (1883) by John Atkinson Grimshaw.

The month of November in paintings. John Atkinson Grimshaw (1836–1893) returned continually to autumnal scenes, and became very adept at capturing the light of the season as it manifests in the Northern Hemisphere. Many of the paintings below reflect the gloomier qualities of the month when the leaves are finally stripped from the trees.


La Belle Jardiniere – November (1896) by Eugène Grasset.


November (1902) by Koloman Moser.

Continue reading “November”



October (1877) by James Tissot.

The autumnal month in paintings, and a post that brings this series full circle since the first one was for October last year. I try to be accurate when dating things but some of the dates of these pictures are either vague or missing altogther. The search at the BBC’s Your Paintings site kept failing so there’s fewer British paintings than usual.


October (The Pumpkins) (1883) by Carl Larsson.


October Gold (1889) by John Atkinson Grimshaw.

Continue reading “October”

Steam and smoke


Cardiff Docks (1894) by Lionel Walden.

There’s a tendency to consider the art of the 19th century as being preoccupied with the rural, the mystical and the historic: all true in the case of the Pre-Raphaelites. But the effects of the Industrial Revolution attracted enough artists to create a sub-genre of painting that takes the miasmas of factories and the hellish glow of furnaces as its subject; Philip de Loutherbourg’s Coalbrookdale by Night (1801) is one of the more well-known examples, not least for being a painting that shows the future emerging from a rural landscape in a truly infernal manner.

Lionel Walden (1861–1933) was an American artist who was in Wales long enough to paint several scenes of the Cardiff docks and the steelworks. I’d not seen this gorgeously atmospheric painting of the docks before but it captures the light and the ambience of a British autumn/winter with the same fidelity as John Atkinson Grimshaw, an artist who made chilly mornings and smoky twilights his speciality. Walden’s other paintings are a lot lighter, with more traditional views of docks, boats and fishermen. (Via Beautiful Century.)


The Steelworks, Cardiff at Night (1893–97) by Lionel Walden.

Previously on { feuilleton }
How It Works
The art of John Atkinson Grimshaw, 1836–1893