contextual references


Golden Age Illustrators

I chose to also look at two other Golden Age Illustrators to give a bit more scope to the style of the work and give me more contextual references to draw from.

John Bauer

Sweden, 4 June 1882 – 20 November 1918

John Bauer was always given to sketching and drawing. He initially studied at the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts before travelling around Germany and Italy to study art. He often used his wife as the model for many of his paintings, most notably The Fairy Princess.

Bauer’s early work was influenced to a large extent by Albert Engström and Carl Larsson, two contemporaries and influential painters. Bauer’s first major work was commissioned in 1904, when he was asked to illustrate a book on Lappland. It was not until 1907 that he would become known for his illustrations of Bland tomtar och troll (Among Gnomes and Trolls), the yearly fairy tale book, in which his most highly acclaimed works would be published in the 1912-1915 editions. In the early volumes, the illustrations were printed in grey tones only, sometimes with yellow colour added. In the later volumes we find the famous examples of his mature work: Princess tuvstarr and Skutt the moose against the twilight sky. In the later volumes, his illustrations were printed in colour.

The details of John Bauer’s work are accurate – Bronze Age axes and medieval ironwork. The costumes in his fairy tales are modelled from books in found in the Royal Library. In 1904, he was commissioned to do a book about Lappland and spent a summer following the Lapps on their migrations. Some of the details of their dress are included in the costumes of his trolls.

His work is beautifully detailed, using a mix of different paint types (watercolours and more opaque paint) to build up layers of colour and tone. A particular strength of his work is the strong contrasts between light and dark areas, which he uses to draw the viewer’s eye across the page. He often has a child or small figure as the brightest area of his pieces, often appearing as a light source themselves, making these figures the focal point of the piece. His work often has a very natural feel to it, using neutral and natural colour palettes (greens, browns, greys) for scenery and trolls and strong but not overpowering colours (white, warm yellow) for the central figures, perhaps suggesting purity of spirit. He has strong control of line, using very dark coloured lines to pick out all the detail, in classic Golden Age style.

I really love the warm, natural atmosphere that his work embodies, as well as the fantastical creatures he creates.  His use of yellow lighting makes the pieces feel warm and cosy. His pictures appear almost textured and sue the fore/middle/background in creating depth works very effectively.

Warwick Goble

London, England. 22nd November 1862 - 22nd January 1943

Goble was born in Dalston, and trained at the city o f London School and the Westminster School of Art. He worked for a printer specialising in chromolithography and contributed to the Pall Mall Gazette and the Westminster Gazette. 

In the 1890s he contributed half-tone illustrations to monthly magazines such as Strand Magazine, Pearson’s Magazine, and The Boy’s Own paper. In 1893, he was exhibiting at the Royal Academy. In 1896, he began illustrating books. In 1898, he was the first to illustrate H.G.Wells’ The War of the Worlds. He briefly continued with scientific romance themes. 

In 1909, he beace resident gift book illustrator for MacMillan and produced illustrations for The Water Babies, Green Willow, Japanese Fairy Tales, The Complete Political Works of Geoffrey chaucer, Stories from the Pentamerone, Folk Tales of Bengal, The Fairy Book, and The Book of Fairy Poetry.

I am particularly interested in his later work with fairy-based fantasy scenes. His style is wonderfully careful and subtle, using fairly neutral and pastel based colour schemes. He has a strong command of line, characteristic of Golden Age illustrators. he also shows great skill with drawing fabrics; though simplified by line, they appear very realistic in the way that they are draped across the body. I also like the attention to detail in areas such as wings and feathers. The wings in Dressing a Fairy appear translucent but substantial and look like they are inspired by insect wings. Interestingly, he has also illustrated fairies from other cultures, such as The Moon Maiden, which has wings more based on those of a bird. I like the multicultural nature of his work and that he clearly draws inspiration from a range of different sources, adapting them to his rich but gentle illustrative style.