Aubrey Beardsley “Portrait of Himself”
This image is a pen and ink illustration by artist Audrey Beardsley and is featured in Volume 3 of The Yellow Book . The illustration was reproduced using the method of lithography, in which stone or metal plates were etched with the image before an oil-based ink was applied. The illustration incorporates stylistic elements belonging to the Art Nouveau movement.
In the illustration, Beardsley depicts a man sleeping in a sizable bed which seems to envelope him as only the man’s head is visible. Black curtains, decorated elaborately with images of flowers and adorned with tassels, surround the bed. Visible through the parting of the curtains is an ornately decorated bed pull which features a figurine of a topless woman.
Please visit www.1890s.ca for more information about this image.
Beardsley, Aubrey. “Portrait of Himself.” The Yellow Book 3 (October 1894): 51. The Yellow Nineties Online. Ed. Dennis Denisoff and Lorraine Janzen Kooistra. Ryerson University, 2010. Web. [30 September 2015] http://www.1890s.ca/HTML.aspx?s=YB3_beardsley_himself.html.
Max Beerbohm “George the Fourth”
This caricature of King George the Fourth from The Yellow Book volume 3 was published in October of 1894. Published over 60 years after the death of the monarch, the portrait emphasizes the King’s rotund shape with much attention given to his body. The delicate lines of the portrait (seen here through halftone reproduction) draw the viewer’s attention to the roundness of his body while giving an impression of fading away. The off-centre framing of the king’s body implies an excess beyond the limits of the drawing.
The king wears a vacant expression and his chins are innumerable. The detail on his chest is ambiguous enough to signify both the details of his dress and his bodily organs, further emphasizing the corporeality of this portrait. The king still moves with the help of his thin walking stick.
To accompany the drawing, Beerbohm wrote “A Note on George the Fourth” in which he expresses his “spirit of earnestness” to “point out to the mob how it has been cruel to George” (The Yellow Book 3 (October 1894): 249. The Yellow Nineties Online. Ed. Dennis Dennisoff and Lorraine Janzen Kooistra. Ryerson University, 2010. Web. [24 September 2015]). However, the piece rings with both satire and sincerity, leaving the reader to consider both attitudes in Beerbohm’s representation.
Beerbohm, Max. “George the Fourth.” The Yellow Book 3 (October 1894): 245. The Yellow Nineties Online. Ed. Dennis Dennisoff and Lorraine Janzen Kooistra. Ryerson University, 2010. Web. [24 September 2015].
Francis Macdonald “The Sleeping Princess”
Frances Macdonald (1873-1921) attended the Glasgow School of Arts with her sister, Margaret Macdonald (1864-1933) beginning in 1891. While at school, Frances met her spouse Herbert Macnair (1868-1955) and the three of them, along with Margaret’s spouse Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928) became an art collective known as “The Four,” known for their contributions to the “Glasgow Style.” Lesser known than her sister Margaret whose work also appears in The Yellow Book, Frances’ late water colour paintings are thematically tied through their meditations on womanhood. As an early work, “The Sleeping Princess” features an ethereal woman wearing a patterned gown and posed in sleep. Her hands lay folded in her lap and her long, dark hair cascades down her body. The use of light and dark in the image creates the effect that she is floating. Macdonald’s figures often appear anguished and mystical, showing an unconventional depiction of the human form.
For more information on Frances Macdonald, Margaret Macdonald, and “The Four” see here.
Macdonald, Frances. “The Sleeping Princess.” The Yellow Book 10 (July 1896): n. pag. The Yellow Nineties Online. Ed. Dennis Denisoff and Lorraine Janzen Kooistra. Ryerson University, 2011. Web. [24 September 2015]. http://1890s.ca
D.Y. Cameron “A Girl’s Head”
Appearing in Volume 8 of The Yellow Book,”A Girl’s Head” by Sir David Young Cameron (1865-1945) was one of several contributions Cameron made to the magazine. In the volume in which this picture appeared, he also illustrated the front cover and frontispiece. Cameron was a Scottish painter and etcher who studied at the Glasgow School of Art and the Royal Scottish Academy. He also shares a Canadian connection, as he was employed during the First World War as an Official War Artist for the Canadian Government. Cameron is most well known for his landscape and architectural paintings, and yet his contributions to The Yellow Book rarely reflected this, and were instead almost entirely of people, female subjects in particular. In “A Girl’s Head”, a pencil drawing, Cameron depicts a young girl in Renaissance attire. The intricacies which characterize the face and headpiece of the girl in Cameron’s drawing are offset by the simple lines and stark details that characterize the lower half of the drawing. The result is that the viewer is drawn to the focal point of the picture, the girl’s face. Though shown in profile, her face is emotive, and what is most visually arresting in the drawing is the suggestion of gaiety lurking beneath the surface.
For more information on D.Y. Cameron, visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/artists/david-young-cameron. To access The Yellow Book and to see Cameron’s other contributions to the magazine, visit http://1890s.ca.
Cameron, D.Y. “A Girl’s Head.” The Yellow Book 8 (January 1896): 9. The Yellow Nineties Online. Ed. Dennis Denisoff and Lorraine Janzen Kooistra. Ryerson University, 2013. Web. [September 25th, 2015]. http://www.1890s.ca/HTML.aspx?s=YBV8_cameron_girls_head.html
J.A. Shepherd “Zig Zag Prelusory”
J.A. Shepherd was born on November 26, 1866 as noted in The Strand Magazine “Artists of the “Strand” Magazine,” Vol. 10, Dec 1895. At the age of 17, Shepherd was given a three-year apprenticeship under the guidance of artist Alfred Bryan. Shepherd began illustrating for The Strand Magazine in 1892 contributing to the “Zig-Zags at the Zoo” series as well as “Fables.” The Strand notes that “[Shepherd’s] animal studies from a grotesque point of view are as delightfully clever as they are strikingly original,” celebrating both his artistry and his popularity (787).
“Zig-Zags at the Zoo” was a series published in 26 issues of The Strand Magazine from July 1892 until August 1894. The series, which humorously depicts the diverse animals found in The London Zoo, was written by Arthur Morrison and illustrated by J.A. Shepherd. The series is memorialized for its strong, interdependent relationship between illustrator and author using these two forms of expression to effortlessly enhance the reader’s visual experience. A review from The Spectator on March 30 1895 noted how:
It would be difficult to decide which is the more essential part of Zig Zags at the Zoo,—the pen or the pencil. They are complementary to each other, and both are observant, humorous, and accurate. Mr. Morrison has a keen sense of humour, and Mr. Shepherd has an equally keen sense of the ludicrous, and between them they make every animal provide some amusement.
This particular image is the first page from the series first publication in July 1892 entitled “Zig-Zag Prelusory.” The “complimentary” nature that The Spectator refers to is immediately invoked as the title of the series is wrapped around the giraffe’s neck forcing the reader to look attentively at the illustration to decipher what the name of this series is. It is also noteworthy how the text is formatted in the shape of the letter “Z” with the illustrations of the zoo animals wrapped around the text. This creates a nontraditional, visually appealing quality beyond the images and into the narrative. The unique format of this first page of the “Zig-Zag Prelusory” demonstrates how illustration is being used interchangeably with the text in order to create an aesthetically appealing series that visually draws readers in. Furthermore, the images on this page are immediately presented as being equally important to the narrative.
For more information on “Zig-Zags at the Zoo,” please visit: http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks15/1500391h.html
Shepherd, J.A. “Zig-Zag Prelusory.” The Strand Magazine: An Illustrated Monthly 4 (July-December 1892): page 13. Internet Archive. Web. 25 September 2015.
Hokusai “Fuji through Rain”
Katsushika Hokusai (1760 – 1849) is credited in The Dome as simply Hokusai and was a Japanese artist who specialized in ukiyo-e, the Japanese genre of woodblock printing. The detailed marks of the mountain climbers’ umbrellas and coats contrasts the stark simplicity of Mount Fuji, a white outline through the long, straight lines of rain.
During the late 1820s Hokusai reached the peak of his career, releasing his masterwork, Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji. This collection included the woodblock print, “The Great Wave off Kanagawa,” which is still widely known today as “The Great Wave” or simply “The Wave.” The late nineteenth century saw a surge of Japonism, a Japanese influence on European art. This edition of The Dome included another image by Hokusai (p. 65), a colour print by Hiroshige emulating The Wave (p. 67), and an essay entitled “Hokusai” by C.J. Holmes (p. 71). Because Hokusai had over 30 different name changes in his lifetime, his works may be found under different names.
For more information on Hokusai, visit http://www.katsushikahokusai.org/biography.html.
To explore The Dome, visit The Modernist Journals Project at http://modjourn.org/index.html.
Hokusai, Katsushika. “Fuji through Rain.” The Dome: A Quarterly Containing Examples of All the Arts 4 (1 January 1898): 69. The Modernist Journals Project. Brown and Tulsa Universities, ongoing. Web. [September 24, 2015]. http://library.brown.edu/pdfs/1330374536393794.pdf
Julien Dillens “Pallas”
Seen in The Dome No. 3 from 29 September 1897, this is a photograph of a sculpture done by the Belgian Julien Dillens (1849-1904), ambiguously titled “Pallas”. The title may refer to a number of possible Greek gods, or goddesses, but more interesting, I find, than the mythic references, are the image’s material qualities. The photograph presents the sculpture’s special play with different materials. It is a chryeselephantine, a combination of ivory and gold. The shine of the gold helmet, the speckled ivory of the face, and, even the sheen of the marble base are all lit to clarity against a dark background. Though the image of the bust in profile lacks the affect of moving in the physical space around the sculpture, the image retains the sculpture’s physical textures. This image presents both fine sculptural and sophisticated photographic techniques, efficiently working towards The Dome’s mission to contain examples of all the arts.
More on Belgian chryeselephantine sculpture can be found within The Dome No. 3: Olivier Georges Destrée’s article “The Revival of Chryeselephantine Sculpture in Belgium”.
Dillens, Julien. “Pallas.” The Dome No. 3 (29 September 1897): 13. The Modern Journals Project. Brown and Tulsa Universities, ongoing. Web. 25 September 2015.
Philip Wilson Steer “Portrait of Himself”
Published in Volume 2 of The Yellow Book in July 1894, “Portrait of Himself” by Philip Wilson Steer (1810–71) is a reproduction of a painting. It appears along with two other images by the same artist entitled “A Lady” and “A Gentleman.” Steer was a leader of progressive British artists and a founder of the New English Art Club in 1886. Looking to France for inspiration for his paintings, Steer was an important figure in the Impressionist movement.
Despite the painting’s title which emphasizes the male, the female is in the foreground of this image set in an interior room. The seated woman’s face is covered by her hair as she is putting on her shoe, while the man’s profile is cut out of the frame. Since neither faces are shown, the image seems to break conventions of portraiture.
For more information on Philip Wilson Steer, visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/artists/philip-wilson-steer. To access the full second volume of The Yellow Book, visit http://www.1890s.ca/Volumes.aspx?p=The%20Yellow%20Book.
Steer, P. Wilson [Philip Wilson]. “Portrait of Himself.” The Yellow Book 2 (July 1894): 173. The Yellow Nineties Online. Ed. Dennis Denisoff and Lorraine Janzen Kooistra. Ryerson University, 2010. Web. [Sept. 25].
Nellie Baxter “Almanac”
This illustration by Nellie Baxter is of a winter-themed almanac for the seasonal periodical, The Evergreen. The bold, graphic lines of the winter zodiac’s iconography and the focus on nature imagery emphasizes the Celtic overtones of The Evergreen’s rhetoric. The periodical had an important role in characterizing Scottish identity during the fin-de-siècle and as a frontispiece this illustration epitomizes the Scottish theme of nature. In making this illustration an almanac, as with the other three volumes’ frontispieces, Baxter also reminds the reader that The Evergreen is a quarterly publication as well.
Nellie Baxter is a fascinating figure of the Celtic Revival herself. She is both a textile designer and a book illustrator, and studied under John Duncan, who was a key individual of the Celtic Revival.
For more information on Nellie Baxter visit http://www.dundeewomenstrail.org.uk/nellbaxter/
Baxter, Nellie. “Almanac.” The Evergreen: A Northern Seasonal: The Book of Winter 4 (1896-7): 5. The Yellow Nineties Online. Eds. Dennis Denisoff and Lorraine Janzen Kooistra. Ryerson University, 2012. Web. [24 September 2015].
Ethel Reed “Four Drawings – III. A Nursery-Rhyme Heroine”
This image appeared in The Yellow Book’s penultimate volume in January 1987. Ethel Reed (1894-1912)(William S. Peterson, The Beautiful Poster Lady, book jacket), a poster and graphic artist associated with the Art Nouveau movement, produced this graphite illustration, and it appeared in the magazine as a half-tone reproduction.
This volume marks the first time Reed’s work appeared in The Yellow Book, though she knew the The Yellow Book‘s publisher, John Lane, from her early life in the United States (Poster Lady, 58). She contributed four other drawings, as well as cover and title page illustrations. The Yellow Book featured two more of Reed’s illustrations in its final edition, which was published in April 1897.
Like many of Reed’s other illustrations, “Four Drawings – III. A Nursery-Rhyme Heroine” depicts a young woman in profile, facing right. She is wearing a spotted cap, dress and floral lapel. The half-tone reproduction displays Reed’s delicate shading in the woman’s hair and dress. Critics often described Reed’s techniques as delicate, and the curved lines in this illustration convey that feeling while linking her work to contemporaries such as The Yellow Book co-founder Aubrey Beardsley (Poster Lady, 60).
To learn about The Yellow Book and browse it online, please visit http://1890s.ca.
Henry R. Rheam “Merlin and Vivien”
Henry Meynell Rheam (1859-1920), credited in The Yellow Book as Henry R. Rheam, was a watercolourist associated with the Newlyn School of artists. His contribution to Volume 7 depicts the popular scene from Arthurian legend in which Vivien, after many hours of seduction, forces the wizard Merlin to tell her his secret entrapment spell, and then proceeds to use the spell against him, imprisoning Merlin in a boulder forever. What is interesting about this image is that, rather than focusing on Merlin as many other artists choose to do (see Edward Burne-Jones’s “The Beguiling of Merlin”), Rheam focuses on Vivien, who appears almost demonic in her sexually-charged power and sense of triumph in the very centre of the picture, as Merlin’s outstretched hand desperately clings to the forest floor, his body in shadows beneath the rock. The lushness and air of splendorous magic often associated with Arthurian-themed images is vacant from this painting. The trees are bare, Merlin’s efforts to save himself are futile. Only Vivien has life, and it is sinister. She does not look straight at the viewer, but beyond, as if she is seeing into the future, preparing herself for further triumphs.
For more information on Rheam, see http://cornwallartists.org/cornwall-artists/henry-meynell-rheam For more on the art in The Yellow Book Volume 7, see http://www.1890s.ca/HTML.aspx?s=YBV7_Intro.html
Rheam, Henry R. “Merlin and Vivien.” The Yellow Book 7 (October 1895): page 27. The Yellow Nineties Online. Ed. Dennis Denisoff and Lorraine Janzen Kooistra. Ryerson University, 2011. Web. [19 September 2015].
Aubrey Beardsley “The Slippers of Cinderella”
Beardsley, Aubrey. “The Slippers of Cinderella.” The Yellow Book 2 (July 1894): 95. The Yellow Nineties Online. Ed. Dennis Denisoff and Lorraine Janzen Kooistra. Ryerson University, 2010. Web. [18 September 2015]. This illustration appears in volume 2 of The Yellow Book, a late 19th Century avant-garde “little magazine.” The original pen and ink drawing, created by British artist Aubrey Beardsley (1872-1898), was reproduced using line block technology. Beardsley was associated with the Modernist movement and his art work appears in a number of volumes of The Yellow Book.
This image features a rendition of Cinderella wearing her glass slippers. She stands in profile with her right foot extended and right hand resting at her side. Behind her are trees and an arched architectural element. A large feather adorns the top of her head. Her dress is detailed with bows, lace and florals.
For more information on Beardsley and The Yellow Book, visit http://www.1890s.ca