One of the surest tests [of a poet’s superiority or inferiority] is the way in which a poet borrows. Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different than that from which it is torn; the bad poet throws it into something which has no cohesion. A good poet will usually borrow from authors remote in time, or alien in language, or diverse in interest.
T. S. Eliot, p. 114 in The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism, 1920
Likewise, a good illustrator welds the theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different and sometimes even funnier than that from which it is torn.
And Lewis Carroll may have borrowed from Thomas Gray.
All art is infested by other art.
(Leo Steinberg, in Art about Art, 1979)
2018-02-18, update: 2020-11-01
2017-08-28, update: 2020-08-26
But perhaps Holiday’s ruff – and the pose of the Fit Five drawing – was inspired by the Elizabethan drama inherent in Millais’ Boyhood of Raleigh, (1869).
Louise Schweitzer, One Wild Flower (2012)
A popular approach to avoid frustration and embarrassment is to claim that the meaning of the Snark is elusive. But some try to understand it nevertheless. For those courageous readers I take this post as an occasion to recommend Louise Schweitzer’s doctoral thesis One Wild Flower.
2017-09-04, updated 2020-07-16
[left]: Illustration to Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark (1876) by Henry Holiday: The Vanishing (detail from lower left side depicting some weeds which seem to have some fun with each other)
[right]: John Martin: The Bard (ca. 1817, detail from lower left side, retinex filtered and vectorized, then slightly horizontally compressed)
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2018-02-17, updated: 2020-02-01
In this image one of the elements has been marked (orange 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. In the example shown here, the borrowing of 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.
2017-09-27, updated 2019-02-25
(Bycatch from my Snark hunt: Doré probably recycled Doré.)