Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Some pretties by Walter Crane (1845-1915)

G.K. Chesterton said "It may be that when we present Walter Crane's illustrations in a nursery book, we are acting like a person who should put a very abstruse selection from Wagner into a baby's musical box." Maybe, maybe not. I do know that I had a book of fairy tales with Walter Crane's earlier illustrations when I was a child--past nursery years, though. I remember curling up with it on a saggy couch in our dim, cool, unfinished basement, along with other brittle-paged collections of myths and folklore. The pictures both interested and repelled me. I did not like the faces, which did not fit my concept of the beautiful (formed by Walt Disney and the models in the Sears catalog), or the heavy black outlines. I still can't say that I really like those fairy tale illustrations. Here is one I remember from that book.

But this later illustration I would have loved. I found it at Dunedin Public Art Gallery.

The next two picture's are some of Cranes original, slightly sketchy designs for the book The Baby's Bouquet.

No doubt I would have been ecstatic over this beautiful champagne ad. I love how, like autumn, it's glowing and warm with a cool undertone.

The Victoria and Albert Museum has dozens of wallpaper and border designs by Crane. (The three pictures above are also from the Victoria and Albert.) Here are some of my favorites.


  1. I do love Art Nouveau and the many artists who worked in that era. As an art student I was absolutely captivated by the work of Alphonse Mucha. As I have later learned, his work is much more complicated with a history and back story that is more than the surface decorative look he was popular for. I think my early fascination with Art Nouveau , (also Arthur Rackham) influenced my illustration style and the design of all my art to this day. Thanks for your examples and writing here.

  2. I want to learn more about Alphonse Mucha now. I don't know anything except that his work is beautiful. I love Arthur Rackham too, so much.