Illustrated books have been enhancing our lives for centuries, and some of the artists that have created the art-work for the illustrations have been masters of their trade. Who could have envisaged reading a Charles Dickens novel, or a fantasy by Lewis Carroll without having the superb illustrations to bring out the narrative?
Here are some of the greatest illustrators that have ever lived, not in any particular order, but each merits their own place on our list.
George Cruikshank had a penchant for the grotesque, and he displays this in his illustrations by an extravagant gesture of movement, often violent movement. Perhaps Cruikshank should be labeled as a cartoonist rather than an illustrator as much of his work is full of humor and vitality.
His drawing are almost sketch-like, which forms his trade mark. The detail is often missing and it is the overall he is trying to achieve. All his characters play their own part in his drawings, they are often boisterous and jolly, and certainly bring the text to life.
Our next great illustrator is Leon Job-Vernet who was a painter, lithographer, and a pastellist who studied with the famous Leon Cogniet in Paris at the Paris Ecole des Neaux-Arts. His illustrations first started being published in 1857, when he drew a series of drawings for L’Illustration.
During this period Job-Vernet was dividing his time between New York and Paris, and his illustrations show the influence both great cities had on him. Not only was he a prolific illustrator, he also never stopped painting and much of his work is displayed at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
Our next illustrator is English, and hails from Norwich. Frederick Sandys was determined to be an artist from a very early age, and his early influences were led by the work of Menzel. Sandys is unusual in that nearly his entire artistic education was just from local art teachers, and his own tenacity to develop his skill.
He joined the National Gallery and worked on copying pictures as a living. As his talent grew as an artist, he sent a picture to the Royal Academy which was accepted, he was still only twenty one years of age. His first oil exhibits were in 1861, and at the same time he was working on illustrations for various periodicals of the day. Finally, his first drawing appeared in Cornhill Magazine which was entitled Portent. His best known works include, From my Window, The Boy Martyr, The Old Chartist, Harald Harfagr, and The Sailor’s Bride.
Emile Marcelin is a very special cartoonist and is most remembered for his work with the stylish magazines L’Illustration, and Le Journal Amusant. Later he founded his own periodical called La Vie Parisienne and was very much a socialite of Paris during this period of his life. He was a prolific worker and produced literally thousands of sketches, living and dead things aroused his interest and nothing was ignored. Perhaps what drove him the most was the differences in mankind over time.