Thursday, November 26, 2020

Sidney Paget's Sherlock Holmes Ilustrations

Sidney Edward Paget (1860-1908) was an illustrator best known for his work in The Strand Magazine where many Sherlock Holmes stories first appeared.  Paget's Wikipedia entry is here, and it has links related to Holmes if you need more background information.

Paget had other illustration work, but today I'll focus on some Holmes illustration found on the Internet.  What strikes me is how stilted they are.  Many scenes are simply of people standing and doing things such as talking or shaking hands.  There are some action scenes, but these too are surprisingly static -- nothing like what was common in American magazines by the 1903s and later.

This was not a purely Paget thing.  My recollection of American story illustrations made at around the same time is that they were staged pretty much the same way.  Possibly this was influenced by printing technology in the form of line cuts -- what was common until the later 1800s.  But by 1900 printing technology had advanced, and Paget did some Holmes illustrations in watercolor or perhaps ink washes.  These also look pretty static.

Apparently readers had been trained to expect this kind of art in magazines.


Perhaps Paget's most famous Holmes illustration.

From "The Hound of the Baskervilles"

Also from there.  Holmes shoots the hound.  Much more action than usual.

One of those greeting illustrations.

And another.

This could have had more dramatic body language.

Even this fight seems static.

A highpoint of the story, deserving of an illustration?

Holmes and Dr. Watson in a wash drawing.

It seems it was Paget, not Arthur Conan Doyle, who had Holmes wearing the deerstalker hat.

Holmes was an expert at evaluating tobacco types and sources.

Portrait of Holmes

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