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Sir John Tenniel (1820 - 1914)
Sir John Tenniel (1820 - 1914)Artist Spotlight
by Jennifer Broschinsky
I'm filling in this month for Giovanna, who is suffering some computer problems! While she is on hiatus, I present a brief look at the art of Sir John Tenniel, an artist of the Victorian age, who is best known for his illustrations of the first edition of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.
Sir Tenniel was born in London, the son of a dancing master. He was a student of the Royal Academy, but left out of dissatisfaction with their teaching style. He was mostly self-taught, with a photographic memory (despite being blinded in one eye by his father in a fencing accident). His fanciful drawings show his naturalistic rendering of animals and his eye for anatomy.
Even with his high art style, he was recognized as a keen humorist. In late 1850, he was invited to create cartoons and caricatures for the British humor magazine, Punch, which he did until his retirement in 1901.
In 1865 he completed the work for which he is best known: the illustrations for the first edition of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. This series of wood engravings has been by far the most influential of his works, feeding the minds of generations of young readers of Lewis Carroll's books. These fanciful illustrations portrayed the animal and part-animal characters very naturalistically, which made some of their anthropomorphic and otherworldly aspects stand out all the more.
Sir Tenniel was nighted for his work in 1893. He passed away in 1914 after a long and fruitful life.
For an online archive of Tenniel's works, visit www.johntenniel.com.
Sir John Tenniel's illustrations are now in the public domain and are easily available online.
Jennifer Broschinsky has, since her youth, filled her sketchbooks with things feathered and furred, winged and scaled. She is currently working on a sequential art story called Songseeker, and is working on raising three sons.
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