‘A duel between nuns’ from the Illustrated Police News (1869). Not something you read every day! The full title: is ‘A duel between nuns within their convent near Genoa [Italy] according to the information of the time, no blood was poured’.
The Illustrated Police News was founded in 1864 – it was a popular British magazine full of lurid stories and produced famously sensational stories during the Jack the Ripper murders of 1888. It ceased publication in 1938.
A dandy’s toilette (1818). A colour engraving, alas the artist is unknown. Used in the book: The corset, A cultural history by Valerie Steele.
The dandy, might be George “Beau” Brummel (1778-1840), an iconic figure in Regency England and an arbiter of men’s fashion. He was a friend of the Prince Regent, the future King George IV.
The Comb of Pearl – from the book The Hall of Shells, written by Mrs. A. S. Hardy (pub. 1897). Illustrated by James Carter Beard (US, 1837-1938).
Beard (1850-1941) was born in Cincinnati, Ohio (USA) into a family of artists. As a youth, he explored the woods and made sketches of nature. He illustrated a number of books for Mark Twain – and many others.
A griffin – half eagle and half lion, carrying its prey in its claws. The image is taken from a Bestiary*. This manuscript was originally produced in England, probably in Salisbury, Wiltshire in the thirteenth century (1200s).
*To save you looking up “Bestiary” – it is a descriptive or anecdotal treatise on various kinds of animal, popular in the medieval period – and often having a moralising tone.
[Acknowledgement: British Library.]
This image is from Lewis Carroll’s original manuscript of Alice’s Adventures under Ground [later published as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland], 1862-1864.
Alice grows in size after drinking from a mysterious bottle with the instruction ‘drink me’ on it.
John Tenniel produced the most famous illustrations of Alice, but looking at Lewis Carroll’s original manuscript, there’s no doubt that Tenniel drew heavily on the author’s vision.
[Acknowledgement: British Library]
A colourful world map, created by Abraham Ortelius – title Typus Orbis Terrarum (World Map). The image is taken from from Atlas Sive Cosmographica. Originally produced in Antwerp, Netherlands, 1598. Acknowledgement: British Library.
Illustration from John Milton’s Paradise Lost (1807) by William Blake (1757-1827).
Paradise Lost is an epic poem in verse by the 17th-century English poet John Milton (1608–1674). Milton is usually considered to be one of the greatest of England’s poets. The poem is about the Fall of Man: the temptation of Adam and Eve by the fallen angel Satan and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden.
William Blake (the illustrator of this print) was an English poet, painter & printmaker. I first saw his work as a child in the Tate Britain. I thought it looked very mysterious/magical.
Though famous today, Blake was largely unrecognised during his lifetime (so there’s hope for all of us). He’s now considered to be a major figure in the history of the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age.
Fascinating fact: In 2002, Blake was placed at number 38 in the BBC’s big poll of the 100 Greatest Britons.