I think that in his description of the five Snark marks, Lewis Carrolls might have referred to some of his contemporaries. After listing the 5th mark “ambition”, Carroll devides Snarks into two types:
It next will be right
To describe each particular batch:
those that have feathers, and bite,
And those that have whiskers, and scratch.
This could be a reference to the Snark illustrator Henry Holiday and the engraver Joseph Swain, or generally to printmakers who make etchings and engravings. The Snark is not necessarily a bad beast (as long as it doesn’t turn into a Boojum).
2019-03-04, updated: 2022-03-28
Watch those fingers: The photo has been “photoshopped” (by Henry Holiday or Joseph Swain?) already many years before I worked on it using GIMP. Holiday’s tinkering with the little finger and the thumb of his left hand might be a “Victorian craze“.
The image shows Henry Holiday and segments of one of Henry Holiday’s illustrations (cut by Joseph Swain) to Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark. The segments show the Bonnetmaker and a bonnet.
The Bonnetmaker drawing could be a little self portrait, a cameo of Henry Holiday in The Hunting of the Snark. The photo is a portrait perhaps taken by Joseph Swain or a self portrait. Henry Holiday was in his mid thirties when he illustrated Carroll’s Snark tragicomedy, and the National Portrait Gallery dated a portrait photo of Henry Holiday (NPG x18530) with “1870s”, where the face shown in that photo does not look too different from the face in the assembly shown above.
Such little self portraits have a long tradition.
In German there is the terms “Assistenzfigur”. That is a person positoned in the background or beside the main person or main object depicted in a painting. You may think of such a person as the static version of a “film extra” in a movie. She or he serves a a kind of helper or assistant. Sometimes one of these extras is the artist who made the painting. In German we call such an image in the image an “Assistenzselbstbildnis” or “Assistenzselbstbild” or “Selbstbildnis in Assistenz”. Perhaps the first known self-portraits in assistance where a kind of signature of the artist.
The “self-portrait in assistance” first became available since the 14th century to master builders and sculpturer, shortly after that in Italy also to fresco painters, and since the 15th and 16th century also to painters of large altar- and panel paintings; see Raupp, S. 8
Source (in German): Footnote on p. 162 in Suzanne Valadon – Identitätskonstruktion… (2001) by Valeska Doll referring to Untersuchungen zu Künstlerbildnissen und Künstlerdarstellungen in den Niederlanden im 17. Jahrhundert (1984) by Hans-Joachim Raupp.
In that matter there also are references to Raupp in Melanie Munduch: Die Selbstbildnisse Luca Giordanos (2012)
For diskussion of the finger “photoshopping”: Twitter
Original post: 2017-09-28. Update: 2022-02-12
To the illustrator Henry Holiday, Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark was a “tragedy”. That might have been Carroll’s intention in 1874, when he started to write the poem as one of the many chapters of his Sylvie and Bruno project. But when the poem was published as a separate book in 1876 with more than 500 lines, it turned out to be a tragicomedy.
Page from a letter (1876-01-04) by C.L. Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) to Henry Holiday about Holiday’s illustration to the chapter The Beaver’s Lesson. The two lines at the bottom are notes written by Henry Holiday.
I think the note is:
× L.C. forgot that “the Snark” is a tragedy and [should]
on no account be made jovial. h.h.
In the end, Carroll produced a tragicomedy.
See also: https://twitter.com/Bonnetmaker/status/1033366198535286785
On a geeky note, it thrills me that this was filled out in purple ink.
Like Lewis Carroll and many an Oxbridge university prof, Virginia wrote in purple. It was traditionally cheaper than black & so became linked with academics and aesthetes.
1:19 PM · Jan 6, 2022
2017-09-06, update: 2022-01-06
[…] 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 […]
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.
2018-02-16, updated: 2020-02-01