Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Thomas Ingoldsby

'The Witches Frolic'
(with illustrations by Ernest M. Jessop)

     'The Ingoldsby Legends' where written by the Clergyman Thomas Barham (1788-1845) under the pseudonym 'Thomas Ingoldsby',  and originally published piecemeal in Bentleys Miscellany before being collected in book form in the early 1840s.

    The tales were written as poems, and are both humorous and macabre. Though the book is largely out of fashion nowadays, it was immensely popular in its time and many handsome editions were printed, often with illustrations by the great artists of the day such as Cruikshank, Tenniel and Rackham.

     The images here are from a large format edition, one of a series of such, illustrated by Ernset Jessop (1792–1870). Its interesting to compare the more humorous sections of images with the Occult calander previously published

    Sadly my copy is somewhat water-damaged, hence the wrinkles in the images, but I hope the large scans will compensate for that. 

Thursday, 5 January 2012

An Occult Calendar Of 1896
illustrated by Manuel Orazi

    Here is a item from the extensive collection of fantastic artworks available online from the archives of the Cornell University.

    It seems to have a semi-spoof written by author Austin De Croze (1866-1937), a writer better known for his cookery books, but its main interest lie in the  lithographs by Manuel Orazi (1860-1934).

    Orazi made his name in Paris in the early 1890s having moved there from Rome. His work is primarily Art Nouveau in style, and although he moved in interesting circles (for example with decadent author Jean Lorrain, Wilde and Proust) most of his illustrated work (which includes a version of 'Salome' as well as works by Poe and Baudelaire) is a bit tame for my taste. despite his personal interest in the occult. However there are some interesting items, for example this humorous depiction of a black mass featuring Maeterlinck, Proust, Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas.

'Black Mass - Deception', cover for L'Assiette au beurre's
special issue on Black Magic, 13 December 1903
    In 1920 he was responsible for the set designs and costumes for the film adaptation by Jasques Feyder of a novel by Pierre Benoit, ' L’Atlantide'. The film is a mixture of the Atlantis myth with a dash of Rider Haggards' 'She'. Here are a few film stills.

Stacia Napierkowska as Queen Antinéa in Orazi designed costume

    But to the Calendar itself. It was  printed in Paris in 1896, supposedly printed in an edition of 777 copies (though this may well be part of a cabbalistic joke) with each double page spread mimicking the Christian calendar in some respect. It reminds me somewhat of a more macabre version of Ernest Jessops illustrations to Thomas Ingoldbys 'Witches Frolic' of 1888 which I will post next time. 

'The Witches Frolic' Illustration by Ernest Jessop 1888

Manuel Orazis' illustrations for
 An Occult Calendar Of 1896

Egaeus Press

    This new press has as its remit the publication of "morbid, decadent and baroque fiction in limited editions".

       The first book is to be by Reggie Oliver and is a mixture of tales from his first two hard to obtain volumes together with some previously unpublished material including a play featuring, among others, M.R. James.  I am told that their follow up title will also be of interest. The website is 'here'.


Monday, 2 January 2012

Algernon Blackwood

'The Birth Of An Idea'
(with illustrations by Austin Osman Spare)

    This article was first published in 'The London Mystery Magazine' Vol. 1 No. 6 (October 1950). As far as I am aware it, and the illustrations by Austin Osman Spare, have not been reprinted.

I have reversed the text for this posting.

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