On the left side of this image comparison you see a scan (source: commons.wikimedia.org) of Henry Holiday’s illustration to the final chapter The Vanishing in Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark. It already is a quite faithful reproduction of the original illustration.
In prints made by Ian Mortimer (for a limited edition of The Hunting of the Snark published by Macmillan in 1993) from John Swain’s original woodblocks, the illustration has better quality, but looks even darker. That is as faithful to the original as it can get.
I think that in the original printing, the dark areas of the illustration grew wider than it was intended by Henry Holiday. It looks as if too much black ink spilled into the white areas. Therefore I scanned the illustration from my own 1st edition of The Hunting of the Snark. Then I grew the white areas a bit. (First I enlarged the image by 2:1. Then I applied GIMP → Filters → Generic → Delate. After that I scaled the image back to its previous size.) You see the result on the right side.
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[The New Belfry of Christ Church, Oxford] is of the best of Dodgson’s Oxford squibs, a good humored but cutting attack on Dean Liddell (the father of Alice) and the wooden cube built to contain the Cathedral bells during operations to build a new tower. Though it can still be found today behind the stone walls of the tower, the wooden cube was always a temporary plan but Dodgson was impatient and the Governing body were slow.
Source: Cristies, 2009-12-04
The Bell in The Hunting of the Snark might be interpreted as a symbol for time and time pressure. But it also might have been used by C.L. Dodgson to continue lampooning Dean Henry Liddell‘s “bonnet-box” project, a meekly geometric belfry to go up on the cathedral at Christ Church. In The New Belfry of Christ Church, a certain “D. C. L.” wrote:
§ 7. On the impetus given to Art in England by the new Belfry, Ch. Ch.
The idea has spread far and wide, and is rapidly pervading all branches of manufacture. Already an enterprising maker of bonnet-boxes is advertising ‘the Belfry pattern’: two builders of bathing-machines at Ramsgate have followed his example: one of the great London houses is supplying ‘bar-soap’ cut in the same striking and symmetrical form: and we are credibly informed that Borwick’s Baking Powder and Thorley’s Food for Cattle are now sold in no other shape.
2018-05-24, edited: 2018-06-25
This blog is mostly about Lewis Carroll‘s, Henry Holiday‘s and Joseph Swain‘s illustrations to The Hunting of the Snark.
In his Illuminated Snark, John Tufail assumed that the night sky in the front cover of The Hunting of the Snark could be a map. Together with my assumption that Henry Holiday drew inspiration from several paintings by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger, John’s paper helped me to find the Ditchley Portrait. That again helped me to find the painting by an anonymous artist depicting Elizabeth I at old age.
Goetz Kluge, Munich, 2017-08-28
As for The Hunting of the Snark, I think that this is the most important finding of my Snark hunt.