Today’s image is that of The Lady of the Lake, Lancelot Speed‘s illustration for James Thomas Knowles’ The Legends of King Arthur and His Knights (1912), 9th edition. Ed. Sir James Knowles, K. C. V. O. London; New York: Frederick Warne and Co., Publication Date: 1912.
An area of art I intend to explore more thoroughly is that primary reason why I buy books: the illustrations.
The artwork that went into many books in the 19th and early 20th centuries was exquisite, created by masters. Yet, these illustrators remained unknown for the most part and unsung. Books are fragile things that don’t always stand the test of time. They become worn, and their contents become outdated. Younger readers see nothing of value in them and they go to rummage sales, or worse: recycling.
They are rarely passed on from one generation to the next.
Thanks to Wikimedia Commons and all the intrepid contributors who find and upload scanned images into that media repository, the works of many brilliant artists have not been lost. They will be there for us to admire, for as long as we are able to access the internet.
About the artist:
Lancelot Speed (13 June 1860 – 31 December 1931) was a British illustrator of books in the Victorian era, usually showing fantasy or romantic subjects. He is best-known for his illustrations for Andrew Lang‘s fairy story books. Speed is credited as the designer on the 1916 silent movie version of the novel She by H. Rider Haggard, which he had illustrated.
In 1912, he provided twenty illustrations, both color and black-and-white, for a new edition of Sir James Thomas Knowles’s The Story of King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table.
Lancelot Speed was also the director of a number of early British silent films. Born into an exceedingly wealthy family, Speed died in 1931, leaving less than £300.
About the Image:
Artist: Lancelot Speed (1860-1931)
Title: The Lady of the Lake
Description: scan of illustration at title page in a book, The Legends of King Arthur and His Knights, 1912., 9th edition. Ed. Sir James Knowles, K. C. V. O. London; New York: Frederick Warne and Co., Publication Date: 1912.
Credits and Attributions:
Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:The Lady of the Lake by Speed Lancelot.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:The_Lady_of_the_Lake_by_Speed_Lancelot.jpg&oldid=328850056 (accessed August 29, 2019).
Wikipedia contributors, “Lancelot Speed,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Lancelot_Speed&oldid=883335674 (accessed August 29, 2019).