Arthur Rackham was one of the most influential illustrators who ever lived. If you aren’t familiar with his work, see Bud Plant’s biography. These scans are from a first edition of Grimm’s Fairy Tales from 1909. This book is packed with amazing color plates and ink sketches.
Along with Edmund Dulac, Rackham was one of the most popular book illustrators of the early 20th century.
Walt Disney admired Rackham’s watercolor and pen & ink style, and instructed Gustaf Tenggren to work with Claude Coates and Sam Armstrong to adapt it for use in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. In animation backgrounds however, the sinewy Rackham line was overly busy, distracting from the characters; so Tenggren evolved towards the more dimensional painting style which reached its peak in Pinocchio, setting the standard for Disney cartoons throughout the 1940s.
Of Rackham’s style, Bud Plant writes, “Most obvious, in retrospective, is the calm and good humor of the drawings. They seem imbued with a gentle joy that must have been reassuring to both the children and their parents. Rackham had found his niche. His drawings would convey a non-threatening yet fearful thrill and a beauty that was in no way overtly sexy or lewd. It was a perfect Victorian solution and he seems to have taken to it with an impish delight.”
This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit spotlighting Illustration.