LitHub editor Emily Temple just posted an article about some literary figures who have been depicted by famous artists—like Roy Lichtenstein’s TinTin, Picasso’s Don Quixote, and Rockwell Kent’s Captain Ahab.
There are more than 400 plates of artwork by writers in my book The Writer’s Brush: Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture by Writers, but until now I never thought to see how many depicted literary figures. Ms. Temple got me to pull down my copy and start listing.
Not only did I find numerous illustrations of literary figures, but many done by their creators.
In this category are: Dostoevsky’s portrait of The Idiot, Prince Myshkin on a manuscript page; Lewis Carroll drawings of Alice and the Queen of Hearts); Hugh Lofting’s drawings of Dr. Doolittle; Eric Knight’s bust of Lassie; Saint-Exupery’s Little Prince; Prosper Merimee’s painting of Carmen and Don Jose; Alfred Jarry’s Monsieur Ubu; Ibsen’s Olaf Liljekrans; E.T.A. Hoffman’s picture of Kater Murr; Beatrix Potter’s Hunca Munca Mouse; G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown, Evelyn Waugh’s drawing of Viscount Booz from Black Mischief; and Thackeray’s sketch of George from Vanity Fair.
Characters from the Bible who are rendered by these writer-artists include:
Charlotte Bronte’s Madonna; William Trevor’s carving of St. Matthew; Kathy Acker’s drawing of the Devil; William Blake’s painting of Nebuchadnezzar; John Berger’s Magdalene; Max Jacob’s Virgin, T.H. White’s Eve; and David Jones’ The Greeting to Mary.
If expanded to cover mythological characters, there are:
Frederich Durrenmatt’s painting of the Minotaur, and Charles Henri Ford’s Minotaur done in collage; D. H. Lawrence’s painting of The Rape of the Sabine Women; Franz Grillparzer’s sketch of Jason and Medea; William Morris’ painting of Queen Guinevere; Gerard Manley Hopkins’ drawing of the tortoise and the hare; Hans Christian Anderson’s cutout of Pierrot; and George DuMaurier’s rendering of the Incubus.
There’s also Dante Gabrielle Rosetti’s gorgeous La Ghirlandata—his imagining of Keat’s “La Belle Dame Sans Merci” and his La Pia, the murdered woman who appears in Dante’s Purgatory; and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.’s brilliant print of Smerdyakoff.
To find out more, check out The Writer’s Brush: Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture by Writers for more than 400 plates of artwork by great writers and the stories behind them.