- [main image]: Segment of John Martin’s painting The Bard (c. 1817).
- [inset]: Segment of an illustration (1876) by Henry Holiday to the chapter The Beaver’s Lesson in Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark.
541 They gazed in delight, while the Butcher exclaimed
542 “He was always a desperate wag!”
543 They beheld him—their Baker—their hero unnamed—
544 On the top of a neighbouring crag.
545 Erect and sublime, for one moment of time.
546 In the next, that wild figure they saw
547 (As if stung by a spasm) plunge into a chasm,
548 While they waited and listened in awe.
Lewis Carroll’s description of the Baker as “wild figure” “on top of the neighbouring crag” might have been inspired by John Martin’s painting The Bard. But to Henry Holiday, Martin’s depiction of the bard might have been only one of two sources for depicting not the Baker, but the Bellman. The second source would be a painting by Matthias Grünewald.
- [left]: Henry Holiday – Illustration to Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark (1876), chapter The Beaver’s Lesson.
Could the Butcher’s longish left hand also have a corresponding shape in Grünewald’s painting?
(SPOILER 1 | SPOILER 2)
- [right]: Matthias Grünewald – from The Temptation of St. Anthony (1515), detail in mirror view.
[…] His picture of the Beaver doing its math problem inspired me to treat that entire Fit the Fifth as a long variation upon the Temptation of St. Anthony, especially the version by Bosch. Holiday really nailed that one. I have to confess that Flaubert’s version is a favorite book of mine and I tried to give this part of the Snark the same baroque, over the top feeling of deranged pagan vs. Christian imagery. […]
- wild figure
- Henry Holiday’s illustration The Beaver’s Lesson as poster (large memory required for proper rendering and printing)
- Face it!
- related blog post
2017-09-13, update: 2018-10-11