Drawing Inspiration: Harry Clarke (1889-1931)

Drawing of two figures
Harry Clarke (1889-1931), The Travelling Companion. Photo © National Gallery of Ireland.Credit

Harry Clarke (1889-1931), The Travelling Companion

This is an illustration of a story from Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales. It shows a princess being transformed into a witch, with jet-black wings, by an evil magician. The vivid colours and fantastical detail in the drawing bring this magical fairytale to life. Notice the many different patterns the artist, Harry Clarke, included in the picture, from the wizard’s chequered pants, to the princess’s floral dress, to the bird’s feathers.

In 1913, Harry Clarke, aged 24, was given his first major book illustration commission by George Harrap and Company, a prominent London publisher. This prestigious job involved producing 40 full-page illustrations for Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales. Clarke completed the commission in Dublin in April 1915. The book was published the following autumn to great praise.

Activity idea: Create an illustration of your favourite character from a story or fairy tale. Use colour to capture the mood and atmosphere of the story; what colours would you use for a spooky or mysterious story, or for a happy and funny story?

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