The Moxon Tennyson

Recollections of the Arabian Nights by Holman Hunt

'I believe that poor Moxon suffered much, and soon afterwards died, but I do not lay any real blame upon my brother,' wrote William Michael Rossetti. But the rumour remained that Moxon, the publisher, suffered so much stress because of the deadlines missed by Rossetti in supplying illustrations for his book, that he was driven to desparation and died.

Le Morte d'Arthur by Daniel Maclise

Tennyson's Poems, published by Moxon in 1857, is one of the most important contributions by the Pre-Raphaelites to book illustration, and marked the start of the great period of book and magazine illustration in England. Many artists were to draw their inspiration from the Pre-Raphaelite illustrations, and Burne-Jones gives a drawing by Rossetti in another key book, Allingham's The Music Master as being one of the main inspirations that made him become an artist.

Mariana, by Millais

The illustrations in the Moxon Tennyson are in fact divided into two groups - 30 illustrations by the Pre-Raphaelites, and 24 by men of the traditional Victorian school, including Mulready, Maclise, Creswick, Stanfield and Horsley, all of these being RAs except Horsley, who was ARA. The Pre-Raphaelite illustrations include 18 by Millais, seven by Holman Hunt and five by Rossetti. These drawings were treated by the artists in the same painstaking way that they worked on oil paintings, with many studies and changes to each drawing, which was considered a work of art in its own right. This was very different to the standard, workmanlike approach of most illustrators, for example John Gilbert, who supposedly made some 30,000 illustrations for the Illustrated London News during his career.

The Palace of Art by Rossetti

Rossetti felt that the engravers who transferred his pictures onto the wood block did not do his work justice. Most especially he complained about the famous Dalziel brothers:

Your drawing comes to [the engravers] like Agag, delicately, and is hewn in pieces before the Lord Harry. I took more pains with one block lately than I had done with anything for a long while. It came back to me on paper, the other day, with Dalziel performing his cannibal jig in the corner, and I have really felt like an invalid ever since. As yet, I fare best with W. J. Linton. He keeps stomach aches for you, but Dalziel deals with fevers and agues.
Address to Dalziel Brothers

O woodman spare that block,/ O gash not anyhow!/ It took ten days by clock,/ I'd fain protect it now.

Chorus: Wild laughter from Dalziels' Workshop

The Sea Fairies, by William Mulready

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Illustration pages // Pre-Raphaelite illustrations