RS Sherriffs’ Tamburlaine the Great


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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The art of Ray Frederick Coyle, 1885–1924


Another illustrator who died young, Ray Coyle’s short life no doubt explains why his work isn’t more visible today. The first two illustrations here are from a 1920s edition of Jurgen (1919), the scurrilous fantasy novel by James Branch Cabell which has been praised by enthusiasts of ironic comedy as diverse as Aleister Crowley and Michael Moorcock.


Some of the illustrations in this Flickr set bear the date 1923 so they may have been Coyle’s last major work. Frank C Papé is the artist more commonly associated with Cabell, and while his art complements the author’s humour, Coyle’s elegant post-Beardsley style seems more suited to Jurgen’s worldly temperament.


This beautiful drawing is one of six pieces from a memorial book, To Remember Ray Frederick Coyle, published in 1926. A stunning piece of art and this rebound edition has an equally stunning cover design by Jeannie Sack. If anyone has a link to other drawings in this series, please leave a comment.

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Fantazius Mallare and the Kingdom of Evil