I am still snowed under at work, and so I haven’t had time to do much to blog about, for which I apologise. One of the other things I have had to do is clear out some boxes of books from my mother-in-law’s attic. While we were doing this we came across an old picture book that the Medieval Historian had as a boy. It was called Tales of the Greeks and Trojans by Roger Lancelyn Green, and it was published in 1963. The stories are really beautifully told, but what struck me was the exquisite illustrations by Anne Grahame Johnstone and her twin sister, Janet.
The illustrations are stunning.
Here, for example, are Aphrodite, Hera and Athena from the Judgement of Paris. I love that elongated, ultra-elegant style. It’s also seen in this picture of Hermes:
Some of the men are more masculine, as seen here:
And there is real joyfulness in these illustrations. The pigs, for example, in this illustration seem glad to be alive:
The Medieval Historian and I tried to work out what they were painted in. The paint is a bit too opaque for watercolour, and I don’t think acrylic was in common use in the 1960s. I wondered if it might be gouache.
Once again, I recognise how much of my own aesthetic I get from my early childhood. I don’t know if I saw this book but the style was instantly recognisable, and they certainly illustrated two of my very favourite childhood books, One Hundred and One Dalmations and The Starlight Barking, both by Dodie Smith. This was a really unexpected delight as we were clearing out, and I think will turn up in something I make at some point. And sitting down to read it after sorting through endless dusty volumes was a real treat.