Through a selection of drawings and books, this exhibition explores the variety of ways in which 19th-century artists approached the idea of illustration. It features seldom-seen works from the permanent collection, including drawings for Gustave Dore’s Holy Bible (1866) and Paul Gavarni’s lively sketches of the London underworld. French, American and British artists’ responses to the works of William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens and Jonathan Swift join in the volumes in which they were published.
With the birth of lithography and the widespread use of steel and wood engraving, the 19th century saw an explosion in the art of illustration. Illustrated newspapers, magazines and literature, aimed at both adults and children, became more widely available than ever before. For the first time the very latest images by the most fashionable artists could be owend and enjoyed by people at all levels of society. This mass circulation of images also encouraged collecltors to place new value on exceptional and personal expressions, seeking out illustrated autographs and assembling albums of sketches. The 15 works in this exhibition reveal both the popular art of published illustrations and the unique images sought by collectors, which brought literature and imags together in fresh and illuminating ways.
This is a focus show on view in the 4th floor Drawing Gallery.