Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Weird Wednesday 2

A jolly illustration by the 15-year-old Dick Doyle who, just a couple of years later was working for Punch and shortly became their most popular illustrator. On January 1 1840 Doyle dad gave him a journal and commanded him to write in it every day - being Doyle he also filled it full of pictures. This picture - intended to indictate all the ideas that were crowding into his head, preventing him from sleeping - is expressive but doesn't convey the absolute brilliance of some of his sketches taken from life, such as the state carriage which rolled past with the young Victoria and Albert aboard. They are extraordinary enough for a boy of 15, never mind that they were basically just scribbled into a diary. Many others already show fully formed the grotesque style for which he would become famous.

This is fun though - dig the emo hair! -and it also shows his interest in fairylore, an enthusiasm he drew on for his few paintings in later life. As well as the illos, the facsimile Journal is written with great brio and shines a light on early Victorian society of the time, intriguingly from the perspective of such a young person - scuffles at the National Gallery, riots at the opera, and rambles in the countryside though places like Willesden, now very much part of London's suburban sprawl.

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