Item #19032303 John Brown's Body lies a-mouldering in the grave. Arthur Rackham.
John Brown's Body lies a-mouldering in the grave...
John Brown's Body lies a-mouldering in the grave...
John Brown's Body lies a-mouldering in the grave...

John Brown's Body lies a-mouldering in the grave...

South Hampstead [London]: 1917. Rackham, Arthur. No binding. Original sketch printed to recto only, dimensions: about 7" by 4.5" Near fine. Item #19032303

A wonderful original drawing by Arthur Rackham (1867-1939), done in simple, flowing lines, depicting a Civil War-era soldier carrying a flag which seems to be flowing in the breeze; beneath which Mr. Rackham wrote two lines from the poem "John Brown's Body", thus: "John Brown's body lies a-mouldering / in the grave / BUT HIS SOUL GOES MARCHING ON". Beneath is written "with kindest regards [space] Arthur Rackham".

The sketch is on letterhead with the printed address of 16, Chalcot Gardens, South Hampstead N.W., with the numeral "3" written next to the address, and the date writted above of "3.4.17" - since Mr. Rackham presumably used the British convention for dating, we assume this means "April 3, 1917". Arthur Rackham married in July of 1903, and although they began their life together at another address (3, Primrose Hill Studios), they "shortly" moved to the "attractive, unusual, high-gabled house" at 16, Chalcot Gardens, which had two studios - one for Mrs. Rackham, an artist in her own right, and another for Arthur Rackham.

In 1917 Arthur Rackham was 50 years old and was known as "the leading decorative illustrator of the Edwardian period" (n.b., from "Arthur Rackham, His Life and Work", by Derek Hudson), having had many of his best-known illustrations already published, including those in "Peter Pan" and "Alice in Wonderland"; in 1917 his illustrated version of "The Romance of King Arthur" would be published.

There is no indication of the person for whom Mr. Rackham drew this sketch; we presume it was done for an individual who may have been visiting him, since it is on his letterhead and has "with kindest regards" at the bottom margin. Perhaps he and the visitor discussed the pending entrance of the United States into World War I (President Woodrow Wilson declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917) and that might have brought to mind other "just wars", such as the U.S. Civil War and its importance for the abolition of slavery. All of this is, of course, sheer (but interesting) conjecture; we are fortunate that the sketch, on plain letterhead, has survived over 100 years; it is a fascinating, and somewhat different, example of Arthur Rackham's genius as an artist.

___DESCRIPTION: A single sheet with the address of Arthur Rackham printed at the upper right, the sheet measures approximately 7" by 4.5", with the image extending up to within 5/8" of the top edge, and Arthur Rackham's inscription and signature right at the bottom margin; depiction and quote as set forth above.

___CONDITION: Near fine overall; the paper is smooth, with no tears, edgewear or creases; the ink remains deep and strong in colour, with no fading to the illustration or the quotation from the poem; when we acquired it, the paper was adhered to a backing, which a professional restorer removed (name of restorer available upon request). The paper and backing was housed in an old frame, resulting in some light sunning to the edges most close to the frame, and some lightening to the inscription and signature (please see pictures and request more if needed). The verso has a few, light stains likely from the old adhesive; fortunately, these do not come through to the front of the sketch.

___POSTAGE: International customers, please note that additional postage may apply as the standard does not always cover costs; please inquire for details.

___Swan's Fine Books is pleased to be a member of the ABAA, ILAB, and IOBA and we stand behind every book we sell. Please contact us with any questions you may have, we are here to help.

Price: $2,750.00

See all items by