Monday, November 29, 2010

Illustration from an Earlier Age

I've got to admit, my interest in illustration doesn't really extend to the decades before WWII. I mean, I find the art of the late 19th and early 20th centuries academically interesting, but I'm not really drawn to it (if you'll pardon the pun) in the same way that I am to the post-war era. But I know many of you are.

One such person is TI list member Joseph Procopio, the founder & co-publisher of Picture This Press/Lost Art Books. Joe asked me to make readers aware of three books his company has published; The Lost Art of E.T. Reed—Prehistoric Peeps...


... The Lost Art of Zim—Cartoons and Caricatures...


... and The Lost Art of Frederick Richardson


Of the three, Richardson's work is the most intriguing to me. I was astounded to read on Joe's website that the artist created these sorts of pieces for publication in the Chicago Daily News in the 1890s. Amazing!


In an interview Joe did with he explained that his intentions are "to preserve this cultural heritage by re-introducing these artists to new generations of working artists, historians, and admirers of things beautiful." That's certainly evident in these examples.


Personally, I'll be looking forward to one of Joe's future efforts: The Lost Art of the Racy & Risqué, which will include pieces by Russell Patterson, Frank Godwin, James Montgomery Flagg, Dean Cornwell and many others. That volume will be coming out in a few months, April being the goal, so perhaps we'll get to preview it at a later date.

For anyone still looking for a Christmas gift for the turn-of-the-century-illustration aficionado in their life, Joe's books may be the perfect thing.

Visit Joe's website for details.

* There are several other publishers of late 19th/early 20th century illustration who are members of Today's Inspiration. This week we'll look at some of those publishers and the artists from that era whose work they publish.


  1. Wonderful! Reminds me of Winsor McCay's editorial work.


  2. I agree that Fredrick Richardson's illustrations are amazing. By the 1960s' there was a variety and blend of techniques.. those illustrations that were more academic and literal, those that were loose and painterly and those that were stylized, decorative and very technique oriented. In some ways early illustration was similar in respect to diversity of approaches. Richardson's first illo posted is decorative, skillfully designed and pattern oriented, yet rendered with accurate elegant drawing. In his second illo. it is far simpler in design, less stylized with strong dramatic black and white tonal patterns. He obviously had very good taste and well honed skills. I am inclined to believe the skills can be learned, practiced and improved, but good taste is much harder to come by. After traveling to many foreign countries, I think taste is culturally oriented for the most part. I have seen the work of very technically competent illustrations, but the work lacked in elegance and sophistication.. they lacked in good taste, and an emotional connection. And, that scenario seems to be even more pronounced in much of today's illustrations.. at least to me.

    Fredrick Richardson came from a different era and a different culture, and it shows up in his illos in a positive way.

    Tom Watson

  3. Charlie Allen9:45 PM

    LEIF.....Sounds like you aren't fond of the Art-Deco period in the earlier 1900's up through the 20's. If so, a shame, because there were some fine illustrators and fine work done all through that period. Many or most artists used various B&W techniques....color reproduction was not available, with the exception of book illustrations. N.C. Wyeth was a good example. Like so much illustration of the 20th century, B&W is a lost art in today's world. Thanks for the Richardson TI....excellent, unusual, and educational.

  4. This looks like a very good series.

    Another series exploring the art of this period is Jim Vadeboncoeur's "Images".

    These are expensive but beautifully printed.

  5. Leif, thanks for focusing some well-deseved attention on this new series. I recently became aware of it myself. Joe Procopio seems to genuinely love the field and he takes the time to get the images right.