[…] When [The Hunting of the Snark] was published in 1876 it was illustrated by Henry Holiday who, though a very talented artist, failed to capture the surreal nature of Carroll’s poem. The illustrations for this edition however, provided by Gormenghast author Mervyn Peake, are the perfect accompaniment. Peake’s drawings have an uneasy bubbling quality, blending with the silly and macabre feel of the words, a particular favourite of mine being his Bandersnatch (a beast mentioned in the Jabberwocky), which is shown above. […]
Nothing against Mervyn Peake’s illustrations, but already this illustration (even without the yellow lines and dots which I added) might contain more elements of “surreal nature” than what you find in Mervyn Peake’s illustrations. I like those playful weeds (or animals?) in the lower left corner of Holiday’s illustration.
That’s not the only thing which that corner has to offer.
Another popular path (not) to understand The Hunting of the Snark has been stated more than three times: Some call Carroll’s poem “nonsense”. It isn’t.
Anyway, I don’t think that Holiday failed to convey to us graphically what Carroll meant. The price for his achievement perhaps was that Holiday’s illustrations are less eye pleasing than illustrations like Peake’s.
Holiday’s illustrations are as grotesque as Carroll’s poem.
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.
In this image one of the elements has been marked (blue frame) which Henry Holiday borrowed from a 17th century painting (by an anonymous artist). This might be a bit different from the borrowing described by T. S. Eliot in 1920. The borrowing ot the pictorial allusion is inconspicuous. It doesn’t enrich Holiday’s illustration. It’s only purpose might be that of a signpost pointing to another work of art.
Usually elements borrowed by Henry Holiday from other artists are inconspicuously integrated into Holiday’s illustrations. Here is an exception. The monstrance-shaped tree is just a small element in John Martin’s The Bard. In Holiday’s illustration it is more prominent.