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
2017-09-06, update: 2021-01-24
Henry Holiday: The Snark’s Significance, 1898-01-29 (The Academy, p. 128)
It is possible that the author was half-consciously laying a trap, so readily did he take to the inventing of puzzles and things enigmatic; but to those whok new the man, or who have divined him correctly through his writings, the explanation is fairly simple.
Mr.Dodgson had a mathematical, a logical, and a philosophical mind; and when these qualities are united to a love of the grotesque, the resultant fancies are sure to have a quite peculiar charm, a charm so much the greater because its source is subtle and eludes all attempts to grasp it.
Attached to Holiday’s article there also is a letter from Carroll/Dodgson.
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 of and by Henry Holiday. However, the photo is several years older than Holiday’s illustrations to The Hunting of the Snark. Perhaps it is a portrait taken by Joseph Swain or a self portrait taken by Henry Holiday quite a few years after the Snark was published. Henry Holiday was younger when he illustrated Carroll’s Snark tragicomedy.
Henry Holiday and the Bonnetmaker have one thing in common: They are creative artists. So is Joseph Swain, who engraved that illustration. How did his face look like in 1876?
Such little self portraits have a long tradition.
In German there is term “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: 2020-06-01
In the introduction to The Hunting of the Snark (Penguin Classics edition, 1962, 1974,p. 17), Martin Gardner wrote:
How well the academician Holiday succeeded in producing grotesques for the Snark (it is the only work of Carroll’s that he illustrated) is open to debate. Ruskin was certainly right in thinking him inferior to Tenniel. His drawings are, of course, thoroughly realistic except for the overzize heads and the slightly surrealist quality that derives less from the artist’s imagination than from the fact that he was illustrating a surrealist poem.
I think that Gardner certainly was wrong. And Ruskin certainly was wrong as well. But, of course, that is open to debate.
Monsters, by Henry Holiday (left) and J. J. Grandville (right).
[…] One of the first three [illustrations] I had to do was the disappearance of the Baker, and I not unnaturally invented a Boojum. Mr. Dodgson wrote that it was a delightful monster, but that it was inadmissible. All his descriptions of the Boojum were quite unimaginable, and he wanted the creature to remain so. I assented, of course, though reluctant to dismiss what I am still confident is an accurate representation. I hope that some future Darwin in a new Beagle will find the beast, or its remains; if he does, I know he will confirm my drawing. […]
(Henry Holiday (1898): The Snark’s Significance)
Once you meet the Boojum, you might be Going Slightly Mad.
2018-05-24, update: 2018-10-27
Joseph Swain engraved Henry Holiday’s illustrations to Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark. As the details (including the hatching) of Holiday’s illustration drafts are important, I assume that Swain was deeply involved in Henry Holiday’s pictorial allusions.
This image may be used without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose. I found it in the Victorian Web in an article by Simon Cooke.
Christ in the House of his Parents: Details from a stained glass window (Brechin Cathedral, source: BSMPG @ Twitter) by Henry Holiday and from a painting by J.E. Millais.
The images are quite different. Important things they have in common with other Carpenter’s Shop paintings are the depiction of Joseph as a real carpenter at work and the wood shavings.
The Lewis Carroll Collection
Christ Church holds three distinct collections of material relating to Lewis Carroll, aka Charles Ludwidge Dodgson. These collections include a wide variety of material, from autograph letters and a wealth of manuscripts, original photographic prints, proof sheets and presentation copies, to a large number of editions of the “Alice” books in different languages.
Illustrated editions include 19th century black and white etchings and a huge range of 20th century illustrations. Some illustrators are famous in their own right, like Salvador Dali, Ralph Steadman and Barry Moser. The collections also include an impressive array of secondary material (biographies, books about various aspects of Carroll’s work, etc.) and are available for the use of researchers upon application to the Library.
The whole corpus of the Lewis Carroll collection is currently the object of intense study and scrutiny, being reviewed and catalogued. This is a work in progress. A significant part of the Lewis Carroll collection has now been digitized. More will follow in due course. This project aims to provide an enhanced experience for viewers, allowing them to flip the pages, zoom in, and read very detailed descriptions. The digitized part of the Lewis Carroll collection has been organized in the following sections:
The Making of ‘Alice’
Other Works by Lewis Carroll
Miscellaneous Carroll Material
Carroll Friends and Contemporaries
Access to all fully digitized resources is made available both through the college website, or directly via the Digital Bodleian portal. Crucially for research, our digitized items are integrated with the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF), a set of software standards established and adhered to by an ever expanding community of libraries and cultural heritage institutions, including the British Library, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, la Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Cambridge University Library, Harvard University Library, MIT, Stanford University, Trinity College Dublin, the Vatican and Yale University. All this gives scholars an unprecedented level of uniform and rich access to image-based resources hosted around the world.
Snark related links are offered in “Other Works by Lewis Carroll“. At present the links also lead to scans of Henry Holiday’s illustrations.
I like Edward Wakeling’s detailed description of Holiday’s illustrations. The Ocean Chart is not mentioned. That is no mistake: That chart quite probably isn’t an illustration by Henry Holiday. My own collection of scans does contain the Ocean Chart, as it is about all illustrations to The Hunting of the Snark. That includes the illustration not made by Henry Holiday.