Friday, November 21, 2008

Edward Ardizzone

Edward Gorey had many artistic influences. He was not only a voracious reader and cultural observer, but an inveterate dance (theater) attendee, art lover, music appreciator and television junkie. In short, Edward Gorey was a cultural sponge! When asked to name some artists who influenced his work, one name that frequently came up was that of illustrator Edward Ardizzone. Ardizzone was born in 1900 and died of a heart attack in 1979. He was British and began illustrating books in the 1930's.

It is easy to see why Ardizzone's work appealed to Mr. Gorey. Stylistically they are very similar, though Ardizzone's line work never achieves the level of sophistication that Mr. Gorey practiced. Ardizzone's work is more akin to EG's early work, however Ardizzone tended to be much more cute and cuddly in his subject matter than Gorey ever was. As an illustrator, Ardizzone was known for hand lettering the titles and author's names on the covers of the books he illustrated. Perhaps EG remembered seeing these books as a child and emulated the illustrator in his own career. Like Mr. Gorey, Edward Ardizzone was a prolific illustrator who enjoyed a long career and his works are collected today.

I have one original Ardizzone illustration in my collection. When I ran across this image I thought it was one of the more interesting and less saccharine images I had seen (though it is still pretty high on the cute meter!). It comes from a book of stories titled Sailor Rumbelow and Britannia by James Reeves. This book was published in 1962 By William Heinemann Ltd, London.

In this charming drawing, gnomes are running amok in an English country house garden at night. It appears on page 42 as an illustration for The Gnome Factory. I received a first edition copy of the book as a gift from my partner after I acquired the artwork.

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