Thursday, August 18, 2011

Arthur Rackham illustrates, "Undine"

Arthur Rackham (September 19, 1867 – September 6, 1939) was a prolific, British, book illustrator; illustrating such famous books as Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, the works of Shakespeare & the Brothers Grimm, among many others.
     Apparently, Rackham invented his own technique for illustration.  His pictures are always utterly distinct in their almost muddied (though, very precise), muted palette.  Perfect coloring for the waters of streams & storm churned rivers.  

     Wikipedia describes his way of sketching out an image thus:
      Rackham invented his own unique technique which resembled photographic reproduction; he would first sketch an outline of his drawing, 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 color pictures, he would then apply multiple washes of color until transparent tints were created. He would also go on to expand the use of silhouette cuts in illustration work.

     These are his illustrations for the fairytale Undine, which was written in 1811 by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué.  Undine has the distinction of, very probably, being the tale that inspired Hans Christian Andersen's, The Little Mermaid.  Undine is the tragic history of a water nymph & the mortal man, a knight, whom she loves.  It is perhaps my very favorite mermaid story...
     I'll save the telling of the tale for a later date, with more illustrations of the watery sprite & her cohorts.

Undine outside the window

 At the back of the little tongue of land, there lay a fearsome forest right perilous to traverse

 A beautiful little girl clad in rich garments stood there on the threshold smiling

 The infancy of Undine

 He saw by the moonlight momentarily unveiled, a little island encircled by the flood; & there under the branches of the overhanging trees was Undine

 The Knight took the beautiful girl in his arms & bore her over the narrow space where the stream had divided her little island from the shore

 He held up the gold piece, crying at each leap of his, "False gold!  False coin!  False coin!"

 At length, they all pointed their stained fingers at me

 When the storm threatened to burst over their heads, she uttered a laughing reproof to the clouds.  "Come, come," sayeth she, "look to it that you wet us not."

"Little niece," said Kuhleborn, "forgot not that I am here with thee as a guide."


 "She hath a mark, like a violet, between her shoulders, & another like it on the instep of her left foot."

Bertalda in the Black Valley

 Soon she was lost to sight in the Danube

He could see Undine beneath the crystal vault

1 comment:

  1. A wonderful page. Wonderful idea to give the gist of de la Motte Fouque's romantic fairy tale Undine with Rackham's illustrations and contecting lines that give an idea of the tale. Congratulation for the idea and the design of this web page.