A short blog about a single illustration

Saturday, 15 April 2017

I love this illustration by the American Holmes illustrator, Frederic Dorr Steele, which I borrowed for a Twitter post. It was created for his first Sherlock Holmes cover, for the edition of Collier's that contained the detective's apparent return from the dead in "The Empy House". The composition is superb: Holmes's left leg and arm (down to the knuckle of his forefinger) push him away from the edge, and are in line with the mountainside. But his right foreleg is braced the other way, forcing his torso and that aquiline face out towards the precipice. It's a great example of what this kind of illustration needs to do: i.e., create the illusion of potential energy. At his best, Sidney Paget managed this in The Strand Magazine, too, but I think Steele had the edge.

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