"Illustrator had passed away before publication"
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After months of gleaning information , I found this particular sentence pop unpleasantly more often then I could ignore. is this something worth doing a statistic for ? it was like there were certain risk to produced illustrations for LEC. just curious.
Fall of the house of Usher, with only part of the books signed by Alice Neel (1985)
She did not pass away, but Mariette Lydis irritated George Macy exceedingly in 1948/9 by going away before he could get her signature on any copies of The Turn of the Screw. As he explained in the Monthly Letter: "we have lost touch with her. We have as a result been unable to get her to place her signature upon the colophon pages: a possibly-pleasing step which we usually take with those of our books illustrated by artists who refrain from dying, or disappearing, while we are reproducing their drawings."
Prometheus Bound & Prometheus Unbound - John Farleigh
John Brown's Body - John Steuart Curry
Physiology of Taste - Sylvain Sauvage
The Revolt of the Angels - Pierre Watrin
Turn of the Screw - Mariette Lydis
The Masque of Comus and The Airs - Edmund Dulac
The History of Zadig - Sylvain Sauvage
5) In Pierre Watrin's case, he didn't die before publicatin; he just wasn't involved with Revolt's US edition by the George Macy Company (they licensed the pictures from a French publisher).
In the early 1940s Macy generously commissioned the ageing, ill and impoverished Frederic Dorr Steele to redraw all his original Sherlock Holmes illustrations and provide new ones for those stories he had not illustrated before. Sadly, Steele died before completion. The final eight-volume LEC Holmes therefore included existing artwork by some of the best-known canonical illustrators - and the books were unsigned.
Although the published collection was not the "Complete Steele" that Macy had intended, it did include those drawings FDS had managed to finish. So technically he qualifies as a "passed away before publication" illustrator.
Had he survived to both complete the project and put his signature to the copies, what a whiz-bang bonanza that would be for dealers and resellers today!
Edited to correct the number of volumes in the set as published.
The sherlock Holmes series was eight volumes, not seven. Three volumes were published in 1950, three more in 1951, then two in 1952. All remain unsigned.
It's a little strange that Macy didn't have have the SH series signed by W. A. Dwiggens who planned the whole series. Personally, I would have liked Sherlock Holmes' signature addended by Dr. Watson.
In addition to the books already mentioned, the following are, to the best of my knowledge, unsigned by the illustrator:
The Cricket on the Hearth--Thomson had done these many years earlier for a different publication that never came to pass,
Punch and Judy--the color sketches Cruickshank had done over a half century earlier had never been published before,
Les fleurs du mal 1940--signed by neither Epstein (why?) nor Rodin, who had died many years before,
The Pilgrim's Progress--Blake was also long since departed,
The Rose and the Ring--as had Thackery,
The Physiology of Taste--M. Sauvage died just months earlier,
Don Quixote (1950), Travels in Arabia Deserta, The Three Musketeers (1953)--somewhat of a puzzle why Edy Legrand, who was still very much alive, did not sign these,
Sense and Sensibility--Miss Sewell died the same year the book was issued, though whether she was alive in time to sign it before it was issued but too ill to do so, or had already passed away, I'm not sure.
Edited: Of course Ken had already noted The Physiology of Taste and the Salome with Beardsley's illustrations is obviously without his signature.
Of course! And the Alice books with Tenniel's works. (Any others?)
I've often regreted not having the signatures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson on the 1950 - 1952 eight-volume Sherlock Holmes series. If Macy couldn't have done a deal with Holmes and Watson, he could have tried to get Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce.
>14 Django6924: Robert, it was probably illness rather than decease that prevented Helen Sewell from signing Sense and Sensibility. It was the fifth book of its series, which would make it the LEC's January 1957 choice and according to the New York Times she died on 24 February 1957 after a long illness. So strictly speaking she didn't "pass away before publication". (But I wouldn't be so pedantic as to suggest excluding her!)
Her NYT obituary, incidentally, has one of those wonderfully precise, almost brutal, subheads that our British newspapers can never quite match:
Artist Whose Work Appeared
in 60 Children's Books Dies
----Did Limited Editions
I too was surprised by Edy Legrand's not having signed Arabia Deserta. The Monthly Letter doesn't draw attention to this omission (as the ML for The Turn of the Screw very firmly does). I wondered if the reason might be that the colophon is on the verso of the last page of the book's index, not on the recto of its own separate page. But a random trawl through about 20 LECs brought up another three signed colophons on the verso of a printed leaf, so position alone wasn't a convincing explanation.
But what the ML did say was that Legrand preferred living in Morocco to Paris, returning to the latter only in summer (perhaps passing Mariette Lydis going in the opposite direction!). Arabia Deserta was a winter book (the Monthly Letter is dated 30 January 1953) – could it be that Legrand wasn't prepared to leave his Rabat home for an overseas signing session and that the LEC wasn't prepared to face the expense (and risk) of taking the necessary material to Morocco?
All of which makes me realise I don't know what is involved in the signing session for a book. At what point in the production stage does it happen? Arabia Deserta, for example, was composed and printed in Baltimore, and the sheets were then shipped to New York for the illustrations to be added (and possibly for the book to be bound, but that isn't made explicit). If Legrand had been willing to travel, when exactly would Macy have needed to bring him over?
As well as The Rose and the Ring Fritz Kredel did not get to sign Slovenly Peter or the 1951 The Life of King Henry the Fifth as he did not originate the illustrations – a shame really; the skills he exercised in re-creating them deserved acknowledgment.
(And it might have been a kind gesture to allow the young Jeanyee Wong to sign Arabia Deserta in the absence of Legrand – her calligraphy and cartography make a major contribution to the book's success.)
featherwate, you have brought up an issue that has sorely vexed me for years. I have researched to no avail the exact mechanics of how the signatures were appended to the volumes. In the case of the designer being the signer--Bruce Rogers and W.A. Dwiggins, for example, we'd definitely expect them to be in at the finish, so to speak. But the signatures of the illustrators is another matter. So many of the illustrators lived in different places than where the books were printed. Were the colophons removed from 1500 stacks of unbound sheets and sent to wherever the illustrator resided? They certainly wouldn't have sent the books once bound. Still, what a chore getting those signed pages back and collated in all the copies before binding.
If anyone has definite knowledge of the signing procedure, your sharing of such would be greatly appreciated.
Your "definite knowledge" makes me a little hesitant to write, but I believe that it must have been different at different times.
As discussed on this forum about half a year ago, there is evidence in both Masereel's Notre Dame and in Sight and Touch, that the signed sheets were sent to the illustrators and then inserted into the books.
I'm pretty sure that the Chinese handled Confucius, the Japanese Kwaidan and the Soviets Anna Karenina themselves, without even informing the club about exactly how the signing was executed.
In the case of Valenti Angelo "illuminating" his books, it's rather likely that he signed the sheets at the same time.
I wonder how this book, listed on abe, was signed?:
"THe Holy Bible:Old and New Testaments
Bookseller: The Book Store
(Lake Elsinore, CA, U.S.A.)
Quantity Available: 1
Price: US$ 10.00
Shipping: US$ 3.99
Destination, Rates & Speeds
Book Description: Racine, Wisconsin: Whitman, Racine, Wisconsin. Hardcover. Book Condition: Good. Hard Cover. Good. Ref #c3-16 year published unknown. it show No 5551 in the printing run. Black Boards, Spine has about a one inch tear at top edge. No writing in book.pages for family history included. Signed by Author(s)."
I figure either NASA or H.G. Wells was involved?
>22 parchment1: Hilarious! They might want to mention that it's the illustrator or the book's designer that signed, not Peter, James, and John etc.
A glimpse of the signing process from Ward Ritchie, the printer of Nigger of the Narcissus illustrated by Millard Sheets:
The book was eventually finished and we were able to maneuver Millard over to the shop for two days to sign all of the colophon pages, as each copy of a Limited Editions book is autographed by the artist.
>24 featherwate: Was he ill at the time of signing? If they had to "maneuver" him, perhaps he was immobilized.
>25 andrewsd: Ha! it does sound like that doesn't it? In fact the opposite was true. He was one of those bundles of manic creative energy who fizz off in all directions - illustrator, painter in several media, building designer, mosaicist, war artist, muralist (google "Notre Dame Touchdown Jesus" for the best-known example), printmaker and teacher (his art school employed him to teach watercolours while he was still a student). When he met the Macys they were very taken with him and commissioned him to do The Beach at Falesa for the LEC. Millard's current enthusiasm was silk-screening and he proposed that Falesa should be the first book so illustrated, with the illustrations being printed by some of his students. Excitement all round. Millard went off happy. The book was pencilled into the LEC schedule. The printers set up the type. .
Three years later...
The trouble was that unless he started work immediately - in which case he would finish it with incredible speed - he tended to go back to one of his other on-the-go projects or get interested in a new one. Basically he was an Oklahoman - jist one of those guys who cain't say no. By the time Millard finally came up with the goods George Macy, sadly, was dead. As I don't have the LEC Falesa and its Monthly Letter isn't in the Dropbox yet I don't know if it was in the end illustrated by silk-screening.
Despite this experience, Helen Macy was persuaded to commission Millard for The Nigger of the Narcissus. This time the printer didn't set up the type. Once again time dragged by. There were anguished phonecalls. Suddenly Millard submitted his full-page colour illustrations. They were accepted! The printer set up the type!
There were problems with the b&w illustrations...
Eventually the book was ready. Clearly the printer then had to employ all his guile (or possibly chloroform or threats of sending round large men in Ray-Bans and a bulge under one arm-pit) to root Mr Sheets in one spot for two whole days of signing.
I do think the results were worth it, though. The book is one of my favourites.
My new word for the day - "mosaicist".
Interesting and entertaining story, many thanks.
>26 featherwate: Fascinating story! Thanks for filling me in. I've been enjoying the Sheets wikipedia page. Definitely a man of diverse talents.
The illustrations were reproduced by, according to the ML, "running the basic color with letterpress plates, from which Millard Sheets will make overlays for supplemental colors." It doesn't come out and say they are silkscreened, but they look like silkscreened art and are really beautifully reproduced--as is the entire book with some of the best typography in a post-Macy LEC and lovely paper with a pronounced deckle edge.
Incidentally, featherwate, Sheets was partially immobilized during the period he worked on Falesa--during that period he had an appendectomy, and was for several weeks locked in an isolation booth--not a victim of McCarthy witch hunts, but as an expert advisor on the notorious quiz show "The $64,000 Question," to a jockey who claimed to be, and apparently was, an expert on art history. Sheets legacy is omnipresent in my town, Pasadena, which has several of his murals (including the one he did for my bank which I used to see every week--when I had a regular paycheck to deposit!), and a substantial collection of his fine art and that of his Chouinard students at the Pasadena Museum of Contemporary Art. In addition to the LECs he did, I also have one of his watercolors. In a few weeks I will be going to the LA County Fair, where the building which houses the art exhibits he once organized to promote California artists is now officially the Millard Sheets Center for the Arts.
'The Beach at Falesa' is one of my favorite. I like the illustration better then the one on 'The Nigger of the Narcissus'. it was also the first unaltered printing as the author wrote it.
>29 Django6924: Robert, thank you for rounding out the portrait of Millard Sheets - he was obviously a great character and even Ward Ritchie, from whose oral memoirs I drew most of my information - liked and admired him despite the frustrations of working with him.
How extraordinary to be able to walk into your local bank (or post office or town hall) and still see a work of art by a major American artist (and congratulations on owning a Sheets watercolor).
I'm continually amazed by the high public profile of many of the LEC illustrators: Sheets, obviously, but also Covarrubias, Marsh, Varnum Poor, Elise (under her various names), Hart Benton, John Steuart Curry... I suppose much (most?) of this came about through a combination of the Regionalism movement and the murals and mosaics of the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP) - kickstarted apparently by a lawyer in the US Treasury; I can't imagine he's ever had an equivalent in the UK Treasury!
The $64,000 show used to cause quite a stir over here, too. If you won a British quiz show you thought yourself lucky to go home with a basket of groceries or a pony (£25). But even these were not to be sneezed in the austerity 1950s.
One of my favourite murals is a post WW2 one, Benton's Achelous and Hercules, a fabulous powerful crazy re-telling of Greek myth via El Greco and the Midwest (I'm afraid shortening it from 22 feet long to six inches may a little reduce its impact):
What's truly wonderful about it is that it was a private commission for a Kansas City women's clothing store, whose president's only stipulation was that it should be reasonably decorous; since it remained in place for nearly 40 years he obviously never noticed the boy with the horn just right of centre:
Either his customers were equally unobservant - or had a robust sense of humour.
I saw that mural many times when I was a boy, and never noticed the Freudian implications of the bugle boy (probably being more drawn to the imposing façade of the lady in blue), but it was fascinating, many years later when I acquired the Heritage Press, and then the LEC, of Green Grow the Lilacs to see the hat-waving cowpoke in the background almost duplicated in a gorgeous black and white lithograph.
In addition to the regional artists you mentioned, must be added the one who did the very finest illustrations of the lot--Grant Wood, whose Main Street illustrations are, in my opine, perfect.
featherwate, have you see the murals Curry did for the Kansas Statehouse? My parents took me to the Statehouse when I was about 10, and I remember being haunted by them, especially by the crazed John Brown in the mural "The Tragic Prelude":
Crazed as he was, he had the gift of prophecy when, in his last letter, he wrote ""I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood."
Except that he's riding a mule in the mural! But it's a great image, as is the John Ford-esque double-spread of the dance. I even like the colophon roundel. Another one for the wishlist.
I've seen some reproductions of Curry's murals tho' not this particular one (I can imagine its effect on a sensitive 10-year-old's mind!). Are his illustrations for the LEC as effective? I've been wary of buying it because Francis Meynell designed it and I don't always find his work sympathetic. In fact it's sometimes plain fussy (pardon my oxymoron).
Sadly, though there are many felicities--especially the frontispiece of John Brown praying, and the double spread of the line of blue-coated Yankees advancing through the wheat field at Gettysburg--none of the illustrations match the manic power of this mural (which was so powerful the good legislators of Kansas wanted it painted over, and retiring in disgust Curry never finished or signed the 8 planned murals).
Although I like the binding design of John Brown's Body, and the overall level of the illustrations is the highest Curry ever achieved in his work for Macy, the real disappointment for me is the typography! Meynell chose Monotype Walbaum Medium, which has a heavy, even somewhat graceless appearance on the page. The very white, smooth-finish paper, manufactured to Sir Francis' specifications "to look like a contemporary Swedish paper" only seems to accentuate this leadenness. It is one of the least popular of the LECs from that period, and Fine copies are available at much lower prices than one would think for the last work by one of the three greatest Midwest regionalists. (I'm sure the lack of Curry's signature is the main reason for the low prices.)
Incidentally, it's somewhat ironic in view of my feelings about the typography of the book, that included with my Monthly Letter, there is a 6-page booklet "What a Typographer Does To/For/With a Book"--being the contents of a letter from Meynell to Macy detailing the plans for John Brown's Body.
Thank you. Not a priority purchase, then!
Obviously a definite case of what the typographer does to a book...
Robert, have you uploaded the pamphlet on Typography to the Dropbox folder yet? If not, it sounds like a prime candidate.
I'm familiar with the John Brown mural as the cover art for the self-titled first album(1974) from the progressive rock band Kansas. It is quite an eye-grabber, and I wonder how many album sales were due to that factor.
Perhaps a solution to the problem of "passed away before publication" would have been to do like a very professional looking book club does right now. They just presented a new book as: "Signed, selected and illustrated by Quentin Blake". I just wonder what the book would have been like if he had passed away between signing and selecting?
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