Arthur Rackham (19 September 1867 – 6 September 1939) was an English book illustrator.
The “leading” English book illustrator from The Golden Age of Illustration was, Arthur Rackham (1867 – 1939) He is one of the most well known illustrators during this period. Rackham’s illustrated everything from the Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm to William Shakespeare plays. Some of his other work includes illustrations for Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, A Christmas Carol, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella.
Alice in Wonderland
Arthur Rackham’s technique resembled photographic reproduction; he would sketch an outline of his drawing, and then lightly block in shapes and details. Afterwards he would add lines in pen and India ink, removing the pencil traces after it had dried. With colour pictures, he would then apply multiple washes of colour until translucent tints were created. He would also go on to expand the use of silhouette cuts in illustration work, particularly in the period after the First World War, shown in his Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella.
His work is often described as a fusion of a northern European ‘Nordic’ style strongly influenced by the Japanese woodblock tradition of the 19th century. Rackham’s illustration style will always be relatable and I really like that about his work. A contemporary fairy tale book would still look current and beautiful if his illustrations were incorporated into the stories. I believe Arthur Rackham is a great inspiration for illustrators, whether they are interested in children’s books or a range of illustrative outcomes. There’s so much to learn and appreciate from his composition layout, characters and colour palette.
Looking Very Undancey Indeed Peter Pan 1907
“Bear the changeling child to my bower in fairy land” by Arthur Rackham Illustration used for Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream”
"Suddenly the branches twined around her..." From Little Brother and Little Sister, the Brother's Grimm, 1917.