Illustration

Lines of beauty: Nancy Ekholm Burkert’s illustration for James and the Giant Peach

Before Quentin Blake, there was Nancy Ekholm Burkert – Dahl's forgotten illustrator

27 July 2019 9:00 am

Before Quentin Blake, there was Nancy Ekholm Burkert. Laura Freeman talks to the woman behind the magical illustrations for the first edition of Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach

‘He strikes me dumb with admiration.’ Van Gogh on Howard Pyle’s pirate illustrations

The facts – and fiction – of piracy

17 November 2018 9:00 am

Horatio Clare explores the fact – and fiction – of piracy

A new exhibition gives us the real Tolkien – not his awful legacy

7 July 2018 9:00 am

To no one’s surprise, the Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth exhibition at the Bodleian in Oxford, where J.R.R. spent so much…

Edward Bawden is deservedly one of Britain’s most popular 20th century artists

9 June 2018 9:00 am

‘When I’m on good form,’ Edward Bawden told me, ‘I get to some point in the design and I laugh…

Bear necessities: line block print, 1970, hand coloured by E.H. Shepard

The star of the Winnie-the-Pooh show at V&A is E.H. Shepard

9 December 2017 9:00 am

The thing about Winnie-the-Pooh, 91 years old this year, is that he’s the creature of E.H. Shepard, who drew him,…

Cover illustration for the magazine Garm 1944, by Tove Jansson

A chance to see the Moomins’ creator for the genius she really was: Tove Janssons reviewed

18 November 2017 9:00 am

Tove Jansson, according to her niece’s husband, was a squirt in size and could rarely be persuaded to eat, preferring…

‘Cnidarians’ from Haeckel’s book Art Forms in Nature, 1899–1904

Art nouveau owes a lot to this dodgy German biologist and his dazzling illustrations

23 September 2017 9:00 am

Over the winter of 1859–60, a handsome young man could be seen patrolling the shores of the Gulf of Messina…

‘The Deckcheyrie For Unbalconied Flats… will be found to work perfectly, we shouldn’t wonder. If not we’re sorry’, from How to Live in a Flat, 1936, by W. Heath Robinson and K.R.G. Browne

There was method to the madness of Heath Robinson’s extraordinary illustrations

20 May 2017 9:00 am

I first came across the extraordinary creations of the artist and illustrator William Heath Robinson at least 60 years ago.…

Rackham frontispiece: ‘Hey! Up the chimney, Lass! Hey after you!’, from ‘The Ingoldsby Legends, or Mirth & Marvels’

Disney, Biba, Laura Ashley, Tim Burton – all owe a debt to the great Arthur Rackham

7 January 2017 9:00 am

Laura Freeman celebrates the riotous imagination of tidy, thrifty, cautious Arthur Rackham

‘Shelter Scenes, Tilbury’ by Edward Ardizzone

Edward Ardizzone – the English Daumier

19 November 2016 9:00 am

It’s funny, isn’t it, how a dust jacket on a book can draw you to it from the other end…

The works by Quentin Blake are from the Neonatal Unit at Angers Maternity Hospital, France (2012).

Quentin Blake brings comfort and joy

9 April 2016 9:00 am

His professional achievements aside, Quentin Blake’s life has been rather short on biographical event, so this book is not a…

‘Venus’, 1490s, by Sandro Botticelli

V&A's Botticelli Reimagined has too many desperate pretenders

5 March 2016 9:00 am

When Tom Birkin, hero of J.L. Carr’s novel A Month in the Country, wakes from sleeping in the sun, it…

Cecily Parsley makes cowslip wine, illustration from‘Cecily Parsley’s Nursery Rhymes’ by Beatrix Potter

The art of Beatrix Potter

12 December 2015 9:00 am

Her best illustrations — limpid, ethereal, carefully observed — are masterly works of art in their own right, argues Matthew Dennison

Rex Whistler: ‘a desolate sense of loneliness amidst so much fun’

14 November 2015 9:00 am

When Hugh and Mirabel Cecil’s book In Search of Rex Whistler was published in 2012, the late Brian Sewell reviewed…

Losing the rat race

30 July 2011 12:00 am

This is a book for anyone whose blood ever ran chill on reading the most sinister recipe in fiction, Samuel Whiskers’ instructions on how to cook Tom Kitten: ‘Anna Maria, make me a kitten dumpling roly-poly pudding for my dinner, make it properly with breadcrumbs.’ With or without breadcrumbs, or indeed butter and flour as Anna Maria preferred, rats will eat anything, dead or alive, from kittens to albatrosses.

BOOKENDS: 75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Myth-Making

29 January 2011 12:00 am

Did you know they once burned comic books? And in America, no less. In schoolyards. It was shortly after the end of the second world war, and legislators and parents were all shook up about what these ten-cent publications with their scenes of violence and distress were doing to the minds of their children. So on the concrete they went, in messy piles. A sprinkling of fuel, a lit match, and the fire soon caught hold. Some of the kids even cheered the flames on.

More real art, please

15 January 2011 12:00 am

Although I am an admirer of Dulwich Picture Gallery, and like to support its generally rewarding exhibition programme, I will not be making the pilgrimage to see its latest show, Norman Rockwell’s America.

Illustration: The laws of shadows

30 October 2010 12:00 am

In May 1904 a young artist called James McBryde wrote excitedly to his great friend M.R. James. ‘I don’t think I have ever done anything I liked better than illustrating your stories. To begin with I sat down and learned advanced perspective and the laws of shadows...’

Taking a firm line

23 October 2010 12:00 am

This book collects nearly 300 examples of Alasdair Gray’s work as a painter and illustrator.