This Treasury of American Pen-and-Ink Illustration 1881-1938 book is indeed a treasure.
I have long been fascinated, and excited by good pen and ink illustration. In fact, I entered college as an art major (waaaay too long ago, now) and pen and ink was my format of choice. I still dabble in it in my free time.
The work in this book (representing 103 different artists) is really extraordinary. It’s difficult to choose a favorite among such great quality … but of course I did.
The drawing of Satan (complete with cloven hoof!) by Charles Broughton is simply divine (pun intended). The use of shadow and light by Harrison Cady is wonderfully rich. I loved the fantasy element and mood of “Before Science Invaded the Ocean” by Daniel Carter beard (from 1908!). And the two works by Franklin Booth evoke the spirit of Maxfield Parrish in pen and ink.
Students of art often know of Frederic Remington as a noted sculptor of western-themed art, so it’s wonderful to see the strong pen and ink work that’s included in this book.
There are two minor down-sides to this book.
1) There just isn’t enough of it! Over the course of fifty-six years, there must be thousands of great pen and ink work. To limit it to only 236 drawings leaves my mouth watering for more. Most likely, any single one of the artists included could probably have their own book of incredible art.
2) There isn’t enough information. I fully understand that this book is a treasury of the art itself, and I greatly enjoying thumbing through it and looking at the works, but I’d also love to know a little more about each of the artists. A paragraph maybe of the years their work appeared; the magazines/publishers they typically worked for; training; home; that sort of thing.
Personally, I would love to see Dover publish a series of more detailed information and samples of work on a few of the stand-outs from the era. In the meantime, this book really whets the appetite by sampling some of the works from this era of pen and ink illustration.
Looking for a good book? Treasury of American Pen and Ink is a coffee-table-style book of outstanding black and white art that is magnificent to look through and should be in every art-lover’s home.
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Treasury of American Pen-and-Ink Illustration 1881-1938: 236 Drawings by 103 Artists
editor: Fridolf Johnson
paperback, 160 pages