Edmund Dulac

Edmund Dulac was a French-British magazine illustrator, book illustrator and stamp designer. Born in Toulouse he studied law but later turned to the study of art at the École des Beaux-Arts. He moved to London in the early 20th century and in 1905 received his first commission which was to illustrate the novels of the Brontë Sisters. During World War I, Dulac produced relief books and when after the war he turned to mainly magazine illustrations. He designed banknotes during World War II and postage stamps, most notably, during the beginning of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign.


“She had read all the newspapers” from “The Snow Queen” London, Hodder & Stoughton, Ltd., 1911

At 22 Dulac was commissioned by the publisher J. M. Dent to illustrate Jane Eyre and nine other volumes of works by the Brontë sisters. He then became a regular contributor to The Pall Mall Magazine, and joined the London Sketch Club, which introduced him to the book and magazine illustrators of the day. Through these connections he began an association with the Leicester Galleries and Hodder & Stoughton. The gallery commissioned illustrations from Dulac which they sold in an annual exhibition, while publishing rights to the paintings were taken up by Hodder & Stoughton for reproduction in illustrated gift books. Books produced under this arrangement by Dulac include Stories from The Arabian Nights (1907) with 50 colour images; an edition of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest (1908) with 40 colour illustrations; The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (1909) with 20 colour images; The Sleeping Beauty and Other Fairy Tales (1910); Stories from Hans Christian Andersen (1911); The Bells and Other Poems by Edgar Allan Poe (1912) with 28 colour images and many monotone illustrations; and Princess Badoura (1913).

During World War I he contributed to relief books, including King Albert’s Book (1914), Princess Mary’s Gift Book, and, his own Edmund Dulac’s Picture-Book for the French Red Cross (1915) including 20 colour images. Hodder and Stoughton also published The Dreamer of Dreams (1915) including 6 colour images – a work composed by the then Queen of Romania.


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1910 Shakespeare’s Comedy of The Tempest Illustrated by Edmund Dulac

After the war, the deluxe edition illustrated books became a rarity and Dulac’s career in this field was over. His last such books were Edmund Dulac’s Fairy Book (1916), the Tanglewood Tales (1918)  and The Kingdom of the Pearl (1920). His career continued in other areas, including newspaper caricatures (especially at The Outlook), portraiture, theatre costume and set design, bookplates, chocolate boxes, medals, and various graphics (especially for The Mercury Theatre, Notting Hill Gate).

He also produced illustrations for The American Weekly, a Sunday newspaper chain in America and Britain’s Country Life. Country Life Limited (London) published Gods and Mortals in Love (1935) (including 9 colour images) based on a number of the contributions made by Dulac to Country Life previously. The Daughter of the Stars (1939) was a further publication to benefit from Dulac’s artwork – due to constraints related to the outbreak of World War II, that title included just 2 colour images. He continued to produce books for the rest of his life, more so than any of his contemporaries, although these were less frequent and less lavish than during the Golden Age.

Dulac also designed postage stamps for Great Britain, including the postage stamp issued to commemorate the Coronation of King George VI that was issued on 13 May 1937. The head of the King used on all the stamps of that reign was his design and he also designed the 2s 6d and 5s values for the ‘arms series’ high values. As well he contributed designs for the sets of stamps issued to commemorate the 1948 Summer Olympics and the Festival of Britain.


Dulac Designed 1953 Coronation Stamp


Dulac was one of the designers of the Wilding series stamps, which were the first definitive stamps of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. He was responsible for the frame around the image of the Queen on the 1s, 1s 3d and 1s 6d values. His image of the Queen was rejected in favor of a photographic portrait by Dorothy Wilding to which he carried out some modifications by hand. He also designed the 1s 3d value stamp of the set issued to commemorate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II but he passed just before it was issued.

Dulac designed stamps (Marianne de Londres series) and banknotes for Free France during World War II. In the early 1940s Dulac also prepared a project for a Polish 20-zlotych note for the Bank of Poland (Bank Polski). This banknote (printed in England in 1942 but dated 1939) was ordered by the Polish Government in Exile and was never issued.

Halfway through his final book commission (Milton’s Comus), Dulac passed away of a heart attack on 25 May 1953 in London. He is forever remembered as a prominent illustrator of the 20th century.

If you’d like a 1910 copy of The Tempest illustrated by Edmund Dulac check out our Ebay Store

The Illustrations of Frederick Richardson

Frederick Richardson illustrated books during the great illustration boom of the late 20th to early 21st centuries. He’s best known for his illustrations of L. Frank Baum children’s books. (Baum was the author of the Wizard of Oz books, though Richardson did not illustrated these.) He also worked with Frank Baum and Georgene Faulkner.

Richardson started his illustration career when he went to school at the St. Louis School of Fine Arts and the Academie Julian in Paris.

Richardson's rooster from a Mother Goose tale.

Richardson’s rooster from a Mother Goose tale.

After his education, Richardson taught at the Chicago Art Institute. Later, he created illustrations for a Chicago newspaper and helped record history with his illustrations of the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893. People were so impressed with his work that they sent him to the next world’s fair in Paris, the Exposition Universelle Internationale. He even published a collection of his newspaper illustrations in 1899.

From The Wee Wee Woman, available for purchase here.

From The Wee Wee Woman, available for purchase here.

After his stint in Chicago, he moved to New York City to make a career move to book illustration. The first book he illustrated was Queen Zixi of Ix, published in book form in 1906. This was his first break into the book publishing industry.

Coyote and persimmons, from a traditional Native American tale.

Coyote and persimmons, from a traditional Native American tale.

Richardson had a diverse illustrating style and worked with many authors to create pictures that fit the style and tone of their books.

Richardson even parodied Vincent van Gogh in a book called The Revolt Against Beauty.

When Richardson died in 1937, he was honored with a book of classic stories paired with his bright illustrations.

The Illustrations of Edmund Dulac

Edmund Dulac changed the art world as we know it.

A select few illustrators make up what we now refer to as the “golden age of illustration”, a time period between 1880s-1920s of superb book, magazine, and newspaper illustrations. Illustrated books became a favorite media at the time, leading to long-living, valued illustrations that are still favorites today. We’ve written about Arthur Rackham, but the other illustrators also deserve recognition.

Another such illustrator from the golden age was Edmund Dulac, a French artist.

Although Dulac started his studies in law, he quickly became bored and switched to studying art full-time. This seems like a good idea in retrospect, considering he was able to get his first commission at the young age of 22, for 60 illustrations in an edition of Jane Eyre. Dulac soon moved to London to continue his career.

The Princess and the Pea (Via super freeparking on Flickr)

The Princess and the Pea (Via super freeparking on Flickr)

The company Hodder & Stoughton purchased the rights to his paintings, which they used in their illustrated books. These books were published once a year.

Dulac’s favorite subjects to illustrate were fantasy and fiction elements from classic stories. He illustrated such stories as Stories from The Arabian Nights, The Tempest by William Shakespeare, The Sleeping Beauty and Other Fairy Tales, Stories from Hans Christian Anderson, and The Bells and Other Poems by Edgar Allan Poe.


Shakespeare’s Comedy of The Tempest, illustrated by Dulac and available here in a rare edition.

Dulac strayed away from the more popular colored ink drawings at the time (a technique used most notably by Arthur Rackham). Instead, he used his preference for painting to let color define the subject. The new printing presses at the time were conveniently ready just in time to accommodate the color separation.

Dulac’s technique changed in the mid-1910s, when his illustrations went from romantic, subdued colors into more oriental styles.

Illustration for Quatrain LXXII of the Rubaiyat (Via super freeparking on Flickr)

Illustration for Quatrain LXXII of the Rubaiyat (Via super freeparking on Flickr)

The golden age of illustration came to an end after the first World War. People were no longer entranced by these illustrated books. Dulac had no choice but to move on to other subjects.

And move on he did, going on to work on such things as newspaper caricatures, portraits, theater design, bookplates, and much more.

He also designed postage stamps for Great Britain, including contributions to the first stamps of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.

Book editions with Dulac’s work can still be found today, and they have aged well, still acting as timeless examples of illustration’s golden age.




Audubon and his Birds of America

You may have seen them around — beautiful illustrations of birds in every imaginable pose, giving prime examples of American wildlife. They were created by John James Audubon, a man who lived in the 19th century and redefined the quality of nature illustrations. But how did Audubon reach this point of success?

John James Audubon was born in what is now Haiti. He grew to have many interests and hobbies as he got older, which included playing the flute and violin, riding, fencing, and dancing. But most of all, he loved walking in the woods and drawing pictures of nature’s curiosities.Audubon_SHSND-4272

His father wanted him to be a seaman, but John soon found that the sea made him seasick and the technicalities of navigation did not do well for him.

In 1803 his father gave him a fake passport and shipped him to America to avoid his enlistment in the Napoleonic War.

When Audubon got to New York City he caught yellow fever and was placed in a boarding house run by Quaker women. There he learned English and found himself in his own personal paradise: “Hunting, fishing, drawing and music occupied my every moment; cares I knew not, and cared naught about them.”Audubon-CanadaGoose

His time in this natural paradise jump-started his interest in studying American birds, and eventually he molded this fascination into a business. He built up many bird drawings over the years. To produce the illustrations, he first killed the birds then arranged them in natural poses (unlike other ornithologists who put them in stiff, formal poses).11_12_audubon25_1000pxh

When he was 41, with his wife’s support, Audubon brought his bird illustrations to England. The illustrations received high praise. As he toured around England and Scotland he got the nickname “the American woodsman” thanks to his fascinating images of nature in America.Audubon-Flamingo

Audubon’s prime goal in coming to Europe was to find an engraver, and after some trial and error he found a London engraver named Robert Havell Jr., who copied Audubon’s watercolors onto copper plates. The engravings formed the book called Birds of Americawhich became critically acclaimed with a wide following, including from royalty.

The book contains illustrations of over 700 North American bird species and is widely considered to be the best picture book out there.

Audubon had spread his love of birds to the public and reached a level of success that he had not dared to imagine.

How Randolph Caldecott Influenced Book Award History

The Caldecott Medal: It graces the covers of beautiful, whimsical, and sometimes downright bizarre-looking children’s books.

Every year, notable children’s books illustrators receive receive the Caldecott Medal. Some recent winners are This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen, The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, and The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney. Each of these show originality, creativity and technical know-how in the field of illustration.

But what is the history of the Caldecott medal? When did we decide to recognize notable illustrators as well as authors?


It all starts with Randolph Caldecott, a popular illustrator in the mid-nineteenth century.

At the high point in Caldecott’s career, every Christmas for eight years Caldecott released two books priced at a shilling each, which children would eagerly anticipate. Think the nineteenth century equivalent of Harry Potter midnight releases, without the kids in wizard robes and oversized glasses.

Caldecott also illustrated more than children’s books; he drew comics, painted with watercolor, and illustrated novels and travel books. How’s that for a diverse resume?


Caldecott’s most successful and famous books include The House that Jack Built and Nursery Rhymes which reached 867,000 copies by 1884, by which time he was famous all over the world.

But another of Caldecott’s illustrations would live on to be even more popular: the cover of The Diverting History of John Gilpin.


In 1937 the Newbery Medal existed to honor children’s books. But soon, people began to realize that wasn’t quite enough.

That’s when Frederic G. Melcher stepped in to recognize great illustrators. And guess whose work stood high enough to represent all great children’s book illustrations? That’s right: Randolph Caldecott.

The American Library Association said “Why haven’t we done this before?” and quickly accepted Melcher’s proposal.

Caldecott’s illustration showing a man on a galloping horse from John Gilpin still graces the Caldecott medal for outstanding children’s book illustrations, and it’s a picture that has become recognizable to book lovers throughout the world. And that’s how Caldecott made history.

What’s your favorite book that has been awarded the Caldecott Medal?