Arthur Rackham (1867-1939), born in London, captioned a self-portrait in oils 'a transpontine Cockney'. One of twelve children, he displayed a precocious talent and a propensity for the fantastic. He drew constantly and, if forbidden paper, adorned pillows. Most of his ancestors were schoolmasters, and his father was a marshal in the British admiralty. Family tradition also held descent from a pirate, hanged in 1720 at Port Royal, Jamaica – a gruesomely romantic notion, which appealed strongly to the young boy's imagination. Rackham attended the Lambeth and Slade schools and studied in Paris. Charles Ricketts, a classmate, introduced him to the exotic, exaggerated motifs of Art Nouveau. Like George Cruikshank and Richard Doyle, Rackham combined in his style elements of humor, caricature and vitality, linked by an underlying humanness. 'While regularly employed first as an insurance officer, then as a journalistic illustrator, he submitted drawings to a number of publications. A commission to illustrate Grimm' s Fairy Tales (1900) marked the beginning of his lasting fame. Several of his early works were originally done in black and white and then re-issued in colour; some used dramatic black silhouettes. A knowledgeable and practiced draftsman, Rackham restricted himself almost exclusively to book illustration, developing complete mastery of the complexities of the color plate. He closely followed the actual production process, altering colours – predominantly soft, muted grays and browns – if the proofs appeared inadequate. Meticulous and methodical, he believed that only the best was good enough. Incongruously, suggestions of terror mingled with fairy magic; he could create an incredibly hideous Caliban as easily as a breathtakingly ethereal Titania. His best-known subjects included Rip Van Winkle (1905), Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens (1906), and Alice in Wonderland (1907) . By 1908 Rackham was elected a full member of the Royal Academy. The Teutonic imagery of Wagner's 'Ring' Cycle stirred him deeply. He often visited Germany and was an admirer of Diirer and Altdorfer. His wife, Edyth Starkie Rackham, was herself a gifted painter, as vivacious as he was reserved. However, he was fond of amateur theatricals, particularly Gilbert and Sullivan, for which he both acted and designed sets. In 1927 he toured the United States, where he was immensely popular. Walt Disney acknowledged emulating Rackham and tried to persuade him to come and work on the 1937 film production of Snow White. Pressure of other commitments had forced Rackham regretfully to decline an offer to illustrate the first edition of The Wind in the Willows (1908). Thirty years later, with laborious effort, he accomplished the task during his last losing battle against cancer.

'Mime at the Anvil'

Siegfried and the Twilight of the Gods
WILLIAM HEINEMANN
1911

'Siegfried kills Fafner'

Siegfried and the Twilight of the Gods
WILLIAM HEINEMANN
1911

'Sieze the despoiler! Rescue the gold! Help us! Help us! Woe! Woe!'

'The Rhinegold and the Valkyrie'
WILLIAM HEINEMANN
1910

'Waken, Waken, Burd Ishel'

Some Ballads
DODD, MEAD & CO
1919

'Ohe! Ohe! Horrible the Dragon, O swallow me not! Spare the life of poor 'Loge'

'The Rhinegold and the Valkyrie'
WILLIAM HEINEMANN
1910

'The Rhine's fair children bewailing their lost gold, weep.'

'The Rhinegold and the Valkyrie'
WILLIAM HEINEMANN
1910