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Appreciating the Art of Frank Craig

January 8, 2013

Over the previous holiday period, I revisited a couple illustrated books from my collection that have the wonderful artwork of Frank Craig. Consequently, I’ve been spending the recent days scouring the web to track down a few more examples of his work that I thought I would now share.

(c) Cardiff Council; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Most of what I’ve seen of his work, including the two books I have, are all black and white reproductions. I’ve not found many color examples of his paintings. Being an artist of the early 20th century, the poor quality printing then wouldn’t have done his work much justice, anyway. Fortunately, he was also a practicing “fine” artist as well, so galleries and museums, such as the Tate, carry his work also. I’ve found a few examples of these specific illustrations in their original form. Interestingly, many were painted in monochromatic tones to better suit the black and white publications (as shown in the two examples below;) although, that wasn’t always the case.

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Although, I wouldn’t describe him as a forgotten artist, his name certainly isn’t as well known as many of his peers, despite his considerable talent and widespread appearances in many popular books and magazines at the turn of the 20th century. Sadly, this may be due to his dying at the early age of just 44 when he was in his prime exposure.

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I think you can see here what it is that so excites me when I study his work. The brilliant compositions and characterizations are a joy to examine. Seeing so many of his pieces together, it also strikes as interesting me how he often sets a point of view with a high horizon line where the foreground occupies at least 2/3rds of the image.

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The two books with his illustrations that I own are “Your United States” by Arnold Bennett, and “Athalie” by Robert Chambers. Each of these books have about 30 illustrations all in black and white.

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