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Record Image
Crane, Walter (British, b.1845, d.1915)
Book Illustration
indian ink and watercolour
205 x 152 mm image size
Collection of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Given 1982 by Mary, Dora and Esmond de Beer through the National Art Collections Fund, London.
With Kate Greenaway (1846–1901) and Randolph Caldecott (1846–1886), Walter Crane is considered one of the foremost children’s book illustrators of the 19th century. Influenced by Pre-Raphaelite painting and Japanese woodblock prints in the ‘floating world’ manner, he developed a highly personal style. With their flattened perspective and engaging draughtsmanship, his light and brightly tinted images evoke a curious, enchanting world.
Watercolours such as this one were then supplied to publishers to be reproduced as illustrations. Made relatively late in his career, when Crane was moving from children’s illustration to work for an adult audience, this image illustrates the closing passage of Charles Lamb’s (1775–1834) ‘A Masque of Days’ in the 1901 edition of his Last Essays of Elia. Lamb’s highly whimsical tale describes a feast to which all the days of the year are invited, each conceived as a human character, and Crane’s work is eminently suited to its mood of light irony about human nature. With William Morris (1834–1896), Crane was active in the Arts and Crafts movement and his pictorial style is part of the genesis of Art Nouveau. Aubrey Beardsley (1872–1898) is an artistic descendant.

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