Visions of Camelot: Great Illustrations of King Arthur and His Court

Overview


Every generation has a chance to rediscover the ageless tales from Arthurian myth. But who was King Arthur? Was he a great and noble king, a strong warrior chieftain, a Celtic deity, or a compelling character of myth and legend? The lack of solid evidence has fueled fierce debate among scholars and historians. But whether or not we can verify his existence—or guess at his appearance—a gallery of important artists have used their prodigious talents to depict King Arthur and his compatriots in a range of ...
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Visions of Camelot: Great Illustrations of King Arthur and His Court

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Overview


Every generation has a chance to rediscover the ageless tales from Arthurian myth. But who was King Arthur? Was he a great and noble king, a strong warrior chieftain, a Celtic deity, or a compelling character of myth and legend? The lack of solid evidence has fueled fierce debate among scholars and historians. But whether or not we can verify his existence—or guess at his appearance—a gallery of important artists have used their prodigious talents to depict King Arthur and his compatriots in a range of creative styles. This stunning array of 148 color and black-and-white illustrations compiles the best of this artwork.     This unique collection presents interpretations of medieval times and the chivalric code—from simply elegant to lavishly ornate—by legends N. C. Wyeth, Aubrey Beardsley, William Russell Flint, Howard Pyle, and others. Accompanied by an introduction to each artist and his work, this visual feast is a triumph of creativity and a tempting invitation to return to the spellbinding world of Camelot.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780486468167
  • Publisher: Dover Publications
  • Publication date: 3/26/2009
  • Series: Dover Fine Art, History of Art Series
  • Pages: 128
  • Product dimensions: 8.20 (w) x 10.80 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Visions of Camelot

Great Illustrations of King Arthur and His Court


By Jeff A. Menges

Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 2009 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-14138-1



CHAPTER 1

Merlin

AUBREY BEARDSLEY


AUBREY BEARDSLEY, 1872–1898


Le Morte D'Arthur, 1893–94

During his tragically short life—which could be described as a flash of brilliance—Aubrey Beardsley produced many influential works and enduring images. A prodigy whose work was first published when he was thirteen, Beardsley saw his artwork appear in magazines and journals in his youth. He was approached by publisher J. M. Dent to tackle a massive undertaking—the production of more than 300 images for Sir Thomas Malory's Morte D'Arthur. The commission would occupy Beardsley for over a year, a commitment made even more poignant because Beardsley did not live to see his twenty-sixth birthday. He succumbed to tuberculosis, which had plagued him all of his brief adult life. The iconic and contrast-heavy style that Beardsley developed at the end of the Arthur project made his work easily recognizable a century later. He is remembered as one of the leading figures in Art Nouveau illustration.


Sir Bors sees the child Galahad

WILLIAM ERNEST CHAPMAN

WILLIAM ERNEST CHAPMAN, 1858—1947


The Story of Sir Galahad, 1908

An American illustrator and painter, Chapman studied in both New York and Europe with the French Romantic painter Bourgereau and American artist and instructor John Vanderpoel, among others. While his studio work appears to have had traditional themes, his two better-known illustrated books both were devoted to Arthurian themes. His work here in The Story of Sir Galahad— adapted from Malory—is notable because of the large expanses of flat color and the stained-glass qualities of the images. Chapman was active in the illustration field from 1905 until 1915.


Young Owen appeals to the King

WALTER CRANE


WALTER CRANE, 1845—1915


King Arthur's Knights, 1911

Considered one of the forefathers to the English illustrators who dominated the early twentieth century, Walter Crane was one of the few who were accepted in both the illustration and fine-art circles. Working regularly with fairy tales and myths as subject matter, Crane's repeated successes made him one of book illustration's first real "stars"—his name became a selling point for the books he had worked on. Crane took in many influences to form his style, including Medieval and Renaissance works for their symbolism, and Japanese prints for their line and color usage. The Arthurian tales were a natural vessel for Crane's later style, resulting in a set of images both simple and clear in their imagery, taking advantage of the full range of Crane's influences to tell their stories.


"Lo!" said Merlin, "Yonder is that sword that I spake of." With that they saw a damosel going upon the Lake Book I, Chapter XXV


WILLIAM RUSSELL FLINT, 1880—1969


Le Morte D'Arthur, 1910—11

A British watercolor painter of the first rank, Sir William Russell Flint would become known as an accomplished figurative and landscape artist in the latter part of his career, but his earliest artistic success came in the field of illustration. Apprenticed to a large-scale printer as a teenager, Flint was twenty when illustration—and publishing—really began to mature. With a great deal of Pre-Raphaelite and Victorian influence visible in his subjects and early painting style, Flint took on a number of high-profile titles. Flint's illustration graced editions of such well-known works as King Solomon's Mines (1905), The Odyssey (1914), and, in 1910 and 1911, Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur. The forty-four color plates in the original two-volume set of the work represented a huge undertaking for Flint, and they contain some of the most striking imagery to be found in Arthurian illustration.


Lancelot brings Guenevere to Arthur

H. J. FORD


H. J. FORD, 1860-1940


The Book of Romance, 1902

If there is any common ground between Pre-Raphaelite painters and book illustrators in Victorian England, H. J. Ford belongs on that terrain. At the end of the nineteenth century, black-and-white line art was still the dominant vehicle for illustration, and H.J. Ford was creating scores of beautiful pieces for dozens of children's books. He would later do color work as well, but his skillful use of pen and ink is the reason for his being remembered today. Not only was Ford remarkably prolific during the prime period of his career, but he was also able to maintain a consistent level of high quality in his work. A long partnership with prominent folk and fairy tale historian Andrew Lang enabled Ford to be productive for the better part of two decades, yielding over eighteen collaborative titles. The work Ford produced for Lang's Red Book of Romance contained a fair share of Arthurian stories, and the wide distribution of this edition made his images some of the best known to both American and English audiences.


The Lady of the Lake

THOMAS MACKENZIE


THOMAS MACKENZIE, 1887—1944


Arthur and his Knights, 1920

A number of gifted illustrator—designers followed the Golden Age of Illustration into the Art Deco period. Thomas Mackenzie was one of the best of these artists, remaining loyal to the goals of his illustration work, while producing a visual style that matched the taste of the day. This Arthurian tale, appearing in 1920, was Mackenzie's first commissioned book. Often compared to Harry Clarke and Aubrey Beardsley for his stylized work, Mackenzie achieved greater success with color, producing palettes both rich and sensitive and owing much to the influence of Japanese prints.


Half-title art

WILLY POGÁNY


WILLY POGÁNY, 1882—1955


Parsifal, 1912

Born in rural Hungary, Pogány was one of the most successful illustrators of the Golden Age to come to America via London. Pogány, settling in London at the age of twenty-three, courted Europe's largest publishers. By 1907, he had begun to find steady work in children's book illustration. He spent the next eight years producing images for the British book market, both children's and adult. What are largely considered to be his masterworks in illustration are four volumes produced between 1910 and 1913. These rich volumes combine calligraphic text pages with full and partial pages of line art on neutral-toned papers; they feature full-color plates as well. Following Pogány's Rime of the Avecient Mariner in 1910 were images for a trilogy of Wagnerian epics—the middle title being Parsifal—in 1912. After immigrating to America in 1915, Pogány continued working in book illustration, adding stage and set design, mural work, and portraiture to an already impressive resume.


King Arthur of Britain The Story of King Arthur and his Knights

HOWARD PYLE


HOWARD PYLE, 1853-1911


The Story of King Arthur and his Knights, 1903 The Story of the Champions of the Round Table, 1905 The Story of Sir Launcelot and his Companions, 1907 The Story of the Grail and the Passing of Arthur, 1910

For a quarter of a century, Howard Pyle was, by most accounts, the foremost children's book and magazine illustrator in America. After his early line work appeared in magazines such as St. Nicholas and Harpers Monthly, book commissions began to come in, and Pyle's subjects began to mature as well. While maintaining work in children's materials throughout his career, Pyle went on to illustrate stories for the top magazines and books of the day. Pyle specialized in stories of colonial America, pirates and the age of sail, and medieval tales. In 1902, Pyle began to illustrate and write his own version of the Arthurian tales, working on four volumes of stories over the next eight years. The four books that he produced contained scores of strong full-page line pieces, as well as decorations and illustrated initials; these have remained in print for a century. Pyle is also well remembered for founding the Brandywine School of American Illustration, shaping many of the next generation's finest illustrators.


How Arthur drew his sword Excalibur for the first time

ARTHUR RACKHAM

ARTHUR RACKHAM, 1867—1939

The Romance of King Arthur, 1917

As the leading figure in British children's book illustration in the early twentieth century, Arthur Rackham developed a sensitive and fluid line quality that gave his imagery a unique, organic feel—perfect for rendering a myriad of characters that one might cross in an enchanted wood. In 1905, Rackham, along with publisher William Heinemann, produced a volume that would shape children's books for years to come. This Rackham edition of Washington Irving's Rip Van Winkle had an unprecedented fifty-one color plates, making it a treasured gift for fortunate recipients. Great success followed, and Rackham would go on to produce hundreds of line and color illustrations for the book industry during the length of his career. Rackham's work in 1917 for Malory's Romance of King Arthur came during a period of great productivity for the artist. Arthur Rackham continued to illustrate books for the full length of his career.


How King Arthur received the sword "Excalibur"

LOUIS RHEAD

LOUIS RHEAD, 1858—1926

King Arthur and his Knight, 1923

Though Louis Rhead did not enjoy the same popularity as Arthur Rackham or Howard Pyle, he was one of a few artists who received steady book-illustration work for most of his career. Rhead's formula for success lay in quantity—from 1909 to 1925, the artist produced no fewer than nine volumes, each offering close to one hundred pieces of line illustration. While illustrated classics with a dozen or so color plates were being produced by some publishing houses, Rhead's books had a far greater number of illustrations, nearly one image for each spread. The lack of color plates helped to minimize the cost, and the Rhead books found their way into a wide range of homes.


Title page

N. C. WYETH

N. C. WYETH, 1882—1945

The Boy's King Arthur, 1917

The prize student of Howard Pyle, N. C. (Newell Convers) Wyeth would inherit his teacher's mantle as the top illustrator of youth-oriented adventure stories in America. Wyeth's pivotal moment came in 1911 with the publication of his first Scribner's Illustrated Classics for young readers. The release of Treasure Island was such a success that Wyeth's career was secured for decades to come. Many of Wyeth's best-loved images came from the Scribner's series; in 1917 his fourth title in the run was The Boy's King Arthur, adapted by Sidney Lanier. This collection has many highly dynamic pieces that combine Wyeth's artistic talents with dramatic interpretations of key moments in Arthurian legend. N. C. Wyeth left behind an extraordinary artistic legacy, with his son Andrew and his grandson Jamie Wyeth among the most highly regarded twentieth-century American painters.

For a quarter of a century, Howard Pyle was, by most accounts, the foremost children's book and magazine illustrator in America. After his early line work appeared in magazines such as St. Nicholas and Harpers Monthly, book commissions began to come in, and Pyle's subjects began to mature as well. While maintaining work in children's materials throughout his career, Pyle went on to illustrate stories for the top magazines and books of the day. Pyle specialized in stories of colonial America, pirates and the age of sail, and medieval tales. In 1902, Pyle began to illustrate and write his own version of the Arthurian tales, working on four volumes of stories over the next eight years. The four books that he produced contained scores of strong full-page line pieces, as well as decorations and illustrated initials; these have remained in print for a century. Pyle is also well remembered for founding the Brandywine School of American Illustration, shaping many of the next generation's finest illustrators.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Visions of Camelot by Jeff A. Menges. Copyright © 2009 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Will and Francis Brundage, The Arabian Nights, 1893
René Bull, The Arabian Nights, 1912
Thomas B. Dalziel and A. W. Cooper, The Arabian Nights' Entertainments, 1902
Edmund Dulac, Stories from The Arabian Nights, 1907
Edmund Dulac, Sindbad The Sailor & Other Stories from The Arabian Nights, 1913
Charles Folkard, The Arabian Nights, 1913
H. J. Ford, The Arabian Nights Entertainments, 1898
Thomas Mackenzie, Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp; In Rhyme, 1920
Maxfield Parrish, The Arabian Nights; Their Best-Known Tales, 1909
Louis Rhead, The Arabian Nights' Entertainments, 1916
Charles Robinson, The Story of Ahmed and the Fairy Perie Banou, 1913

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