Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Great John D. Batten

John Dickson Batten (1860-1932) has been a favorite illustrator since I was a kid. While not as celebrated as many of his contemporaries, his pen work illustrations and works in tempera are amazing. This image of a group of frog-like goblins remains a favorite of mine; its weirdly cheerful atmosphere--and especially the goofy expression on the middle figure--cracks me up.

Nosing through a used bookstore while in art school, I was fortunate to find this old edition of Joseph Jacob's English Fairy Tales from 1891. It contains many of Batten's greatest images--plus this sweet cover!

Here's one of my all time favorites!

My parents gave me a set of illustrated books early on. This is the Batten image that first caught my eye as a five-year-old.

Characters (and musician characters) give me a charge, and Batten drew many.

He also painted dramatic works using tempera on gesso.
The painting of Snow Drop and the Seven Little Men can be seen large and gorgeous here:
Hope you enjoy Batten's works as much as I,
and thanks for checking out my blog!


  1. Love these illos - thanks for sharing your history with them!

    1. You are welcome, Kathleen--very glad you enjoyed the post!

  2. Great stuff! Reminds me of the hobgoblins and ghosts of my first remembered (and somewhat surreal) consciousness.

  3. Haha--I know what you mean Erik! Thanks for checking it out :)


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