Once Upon A Time In Egypt?
Desert Siren -- Part 1
The Art of Sidney Sime
Guilt and the Artist
Making Green Art & Staying Healthy
EMG news for June 2008
The Art of Sidney SimeArtist Spotlight
by Giovanna Adams
Sidney Sime was an artist in the late Victorian age, mostly remembered for his satirical artwork and his story illustrations for Irish author Lord Dunsany.
Sidney was born in poverty in Manchester, England. He showed an early talent for art, but his early years were spent making a living as a baker, a shoemaker, a coal miner and other forms of manual labor. He studied his craft at the Liverpool School of Art. In 1898, Sidney’s uncle died and left the bulk of his estate to the struggling artist. No longer needing to work, he was able to devote all of his time to his growing art career.(1)
Sidney quickly became famous for drawings and illustrations with fantasy themes in "Pick-Me-Up", "The Idler" and "Pall Mall Gazette” magazines. The fantasy theme was often used as a mask for satire aimed at the rich and the politicians.
During this time he did illustrations for a fantasy story by Laurence Housman for Pall Mall. He was, for probably the first time, coupled with an author who challenged his abilities and imagination as an artist. Six years later, in 1905, he was approached by a young British aristocrat who had written his own book of fantasies and felt that Sime was the only living artist capable of illustrating it. Sime created eight amazing pieces of art for Lord Dunsany's “Gods of Pegana”. This was the start of a 15 year collaboration which led to Dunsany writing stories around Sime's illustrations. Other than two cover pieces for a pair of Arthur Machen books, Dunsany's were the only books Sime illustrated.(2)
Some of the other titles were: and the Gods, Sword of Welleran, Dreamer's Tales, Book of Wonder, Last Book of Wonder, The Chronicles of Rodriquez, and King of Elfland's Daughter. and the Gods andThe Chronicles of Rodriquez were issued in limited editions with vellum spines and leather title labels in 1922. Each was signed by Dunsany and Sime. With the exception of a few exhibitions in 1923 and 1927, Sime faded from the art scene after the Dunsany books were no longer in print.(3)
Sime is still considered a great influence to many fantasy and horror artists today. H.P Lovecraft was quoted as saying “Yes -- Sime does splendid teamwork with Dunsany, seeming to share his bizarre & individual vision as few could. He was an old man, largely retired from active work and Dunsany prodded him considerably to get the few illustrations he wanted, There's something those fellows catch - beyond life - that they're able to make us catch for a second. Doré had it. Sime had it." (to Robert H. Barlow, 14 March 1933).(4) And Sir Arthur C. Clarke went on to say "No-one has ever captured the spirit of fantasy more perfectly than Sime".(5)
Towards the end of his life, Sidney Sime became increasingly reclusive, and the man who had once loved the night life and theatres of nineties London spent most of his time in his cottage in Worplesden, Surrey. He died in 1941. A small memorial gallery of his paintings, drawings and caricatures can be visited in Worplesdon Memorial Hall, Worplesdon. His widow Mary preserved many of his remaining works, which on her death were willed to form the Sime Memorial Gallery, then and still in Worplesdon.(6)
3. From “An Ultimate Dim Thule” - a review of the early works of Sidney Sime. George Locke, Ferret Fantasy, 1973
5. Sidney H. Sime: Master of Fantasy. Paul W. Skeeters, Ward Ritchie Press, 1978.
6. The Land of Dreams - S.H.Sime, 1905-1916. George Locke, Ferret Fantasy, 1975.
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