Thursday, June 24, 2010

NC Wyeth's "Treasure Island"

By guest author, Charlie Allen

Once again a visit with N.C.WYETH....and with his paintings for Robert Lewis Stevenson's 'Treasure Island'.

The fourteen images (6 of which are included on this blog) are from a calendar beautifully produced in 1983 by Charles Scribner & Sons. They were reproduced and printed in Japan. The quality and color fidelity from the mostly original paintings (instead of from book reproductions) is outstanding. A heartfelt thanks and deep appreciation to Charles Scribner & Sons for making this great art available to the public is not enough.

As said in the earlier blog, Wyeth was proud of these illustrations, saying, "I've turned out a set of pictures, without doubt far better quality than anything I ever did... "

I have no firm data on the size of these, but know Wyeth painting in oils was comfortable with large sizes. When an artist of Wyeth's abilities waxes that enthusiastic about out, Nellie!

Beginning with Wyeth's over design of fierce pirates, crossed pistols, saber wielding, each illustration has a marvelous choice of characters, fine original composition, and they're designed together to compliment and hold the strong narrative of the story.

As in the last blog, I won't comment on each selecton. Besides, words can never match painted inspiration.

Just the combination of NC Wyeth and Robert Lewis Stevenson is a treat and a true natural.

Chas. Allen.

* Tomorrow, Leif shares some scans from NC Wyeth's later (last?) period.

* If you are new to Today's Inspiration and never read Charlie Allen's blog, this is your chance to get to know our guest author better. Drop by there and peruse Charlie's archives for some great stories and some truly amazing artwork!


  1. N.C. Wyeth's illustrations for Treasure Island are my favorite book illustrations, maybe my favorite
    illustrations. The way the characters
    are captured, the way art is composed and painted leave an indelible imprint.

  2. What has always fascinated me was the fact he was able to purchase property and build a studio with the payment he received for these 14 paintings. It reflects the respect that many illustrators of that period garnered. I remember reading somewhere that fees paid today are only 25% of what was considered standard for illustration in the early 1900s. Mind you photography was still considered a novelty back then and wasn't serious competition for illustrators. I always liked the idea of being commissioned by a newspaper to go out and 'record' a major news event with pen and sketchpad.

  3. These bring back some great memories; they are etched into my mind.

    Thanks for the great posts.

  4. Such powerful images. Thanks again for sharing these :)

  5. Chad Sterling1:19 PM

    I found the King Arthur illustrations something of a mixed bag, a couple of really good ones and quite a few so-so (some with awkward tangents and others with slightly static posed quality.
    But these Treasure Island pictures are excellent, vivid and iconic, equal to the high standards of Howard Pyle.
    It's funny though, I'd have thought Charlie would be more of a Cornwell fan.

  6. A superb collection of illustrations. "Jim Hawkins Leaves Home" is one of my favorite works. Thanks for posting.