The Many Illustrations of Alice in Wonderland
There are myriad artistic interpretations of Alice in Wonderland to be found, including Alice, and all the inhabitants of Wonderland. Even Alice's hair color is subject to change. In the Disney cartoon, her hair is a golden blonde, but I have seen her sporting brown, blue, red, or even raven locks in other illustrations. Many versions of her dress are seen as well--in all different colors of the rainbow but most commonly blue, and in different styles, from innocent to punk to Lolita to glamorous.
It's a challenge for artists to put their own spin on Alice in Wonderland, and they do it in so many fun and captivating ways! One example of this is the Cheshire Cat. Artists create him in a variety of colors: orange, blue, purple, black, pink, etc., etc. . . . In my latest version of Alice in Wonderland, I thought it would be really different to make him a calico (rather than the traditional tabby). I also anointed him with green, saucer-shaped eyes, my personal tribute to the mother of big-eye art, Margaret Keane.
Many artists, such as myself, in addition to the traditional children's version of Alice in Wonderland, also enjoy creating an off-the-wall version just for the fun of it. The most popular twist on Alice in Wonderland features a raven-haired Gothic Alice--with a touch of naughtiness, horror, or a combination of the two, thrown in for good measure.
This hub features illustrations by an eclectic group of extremely imaginative and talented artists. Grab some popcorn, sit back, and enjoy the show. . . .
John Tenniel, born in Bayswater, West London on February 28, 1820, is best known as the illustrator for Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (London: Macmillan, 1865) and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There (London: Macmillan, 1871). He was a British illustrator, political cartoonist, and graphic humorist, knighted by Queen Victoria for his artistic achievements in 1893.
Lewis Carroll, author of the "Alice" books, originally set out to illustrate the books himself, but was so overwhelmed with problems, not the least of which were his own artistic inabilities, that when engraver Orlando Jewitt suggested he get help, he hired John Tenniel. Tenniel was employed as chief cartoon artist for Punch (a liberal publication that pushed for political and social reform) at the time; in his 50 years of illustrating for Punch, Tenniel would ultimately create 2,165 separate cartoons for them.
Tenniel created ninety-two drawings for the "Alice" books, but was unhappy with the print quality of the first draft, which came out in 1865. This first edition was shelved and subsequently resold in America. A new edition was quickly released in December of the same year (although dated 1866) and was an instant hit.
Strangely enough, after illustrating the "Alice" books, Tenniel's ability to illustrate books apparently hit a brick wall. After 1872, he never did such work again, even when Carroll approached him about another book project. Tenniel died on February 25, 1914 at the age of ninety-three.
Maria Louise Kirk, a relatively unknown American illustrator, is best remembered for her illustrations of children's books.
Born on June 21, 1860 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Kirk studied art at the School of Design for Women and the Academy of Fine Arts (both in Philadelphia). She exhibited her work in Chicago and Philidelphia, and even won an award in 1894.
She was quite prolific, illustrating scores of books. Some of the books illustrated by Kirk include: At the Back of the North Wind and The Princess and the Curdie, both by George MacDonald; The Story of the Canterbury Pilgrims by Frederick Joseph Harvey Darton (1914); Heidi by Johanna Spyri (1915); and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1904). Oddly, Kirk passed away on her birthday in 1938.
Arthur Rackham, an English book illustrator, created his distinctive drawings with pen and India ink and is regarded as one of the leading illustrators of the "Golden Age" of British book illustration. One of twelve children, he was born in Lewisham (part of Kent at the time) in 1884, and studied at the Lambeth School of Art.
Rackham began his life as an illustrator in 1892, when he began working for the Westminster Budget as a reporter and illustrator. After that, he began illustrating books, continuing to illustrate until his death from cancer in 1939.
Rackham, whose work was influenced by the Japanese woodblock tradition of the early 1800s, combined elements of Nordic (northern European) and Japanese styles into his work. A background in journalistic illustration assisted Rackham in developing his own drawing style, based on uniquely expressive lines accented with subtle touches of watercolor.
Rackham's delightful earth-tone renderings proved perfect for illustrating Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (in 1907). Today, his work is widely sought after by collectors, largely in the U.K. and United States. His images have been reproduced on greeting cards and many of his books are still in print today.
London born A.E. Jackson (the "A" and "E" stand for Albert Edward) worked as a commercial illustrator from 1893--1947. He illustrated many books that are considered children's classics today such as Gulliver's Travels, Water Babies, Robinson Crusoe, Tales of the Arabian Knights: Children's Treasury, Stories from Shakespeare, and, my favorite, Alice in Wonderland (1915).
Jackson was very prolific, illustrating many other publications as well, utilizing either line drawings or color illustrations. An accomplished miniature portrait artist, his portraits of Hartford residents were featured in a 1903 edition of Connecticut Magazine, who described him as "one of the most distinguished of modern miniaturists."
English illustrator Gwynedd M. Hudson was born in 1909 and educated at the Brighton School of Art. In 1922, she illustrated a version of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. One edition was published in London (Hodder), and one in New York (Dodd).
Hudson also designed posters for the Underground Group (London's underground railway) between 1926 and 1929. She died in 1935.