"The Pickwick Club," the first full-page illustration by Sol Eytinge, Jr. 7.4 cm high by 9.9 cm wide. The Diamond Edition of Dickens's The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club (Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1867). Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link your document to this URL.]

In this initial full-page multiple-character study for the final novel in the compact American "Diamond Edition," the principal members of Mr. Pickwick's club appear, as in the text:

'That the Corresponding Society of the Pickwick Club is therefore hereby constituted; and that Samuel Pickwick, Esq., G.C.M.P.C., Tracy Tupman, Esq., M.P.C., Augustus Snodgrass, Esq., M.P.C., and Nathaniel Winkle, Esq., M.P.C., are hereby nominated and appointed members of the same. . . . [ch. 1, p. 17 in The Diamond Edition]

In the longer programs of illustration — those by Seymour and Browne (1836-37), Browne in the British Household Edition (1873), and Nast in American Household Edition — these characters occur repeatedly. However, despite their importance as continuing characters, Eytinge has elected to depict Tupman (left), Snodgrass, and Winkle (right) just once, in this illustration facing chapter one, which inaugurates the Club and the reader's engagement in their disconnected "affairs." Although the American illustrator has accurately depicted these characters and their poses, he has in fact reversed their juxtaposition, so that Eytinge has foregrounded and isolated Tracy Tupman (the not-very-intelligent, but well-fed middle-aged, respectably dressed middle-class gentleman of receding hairline) to the left of Mr. Pickwick, who is standing (as in Robert Seymour's first illustration, "Mr. Pickwick Addresses the Club", April 1836) on a Windsor chair as he speaks enthusiastically about the activities of the Club and confronts the jealous Mr. Blotton (likely the figure standing at the opposite end of the table, up left). In preparing his sketches for the Harper and Brothers version of the Household Edition in the early 1870s, political cartoonist Thomas Nast may well have decided to utilise Eytinge's perspective rather than Seymour's. The moment depicted but adjusted is this:

And how much more interesting did the spectacle become, when, starting into full life and animation, as a simultaneous call for "Pickwick" burst from his followers, that illustrious man slowly mounted into the Windsor chair, on which he had been previously seated, and addressed the club himself had founded. What a study for an artist did that exciting scene present! The eloquent Pickwick, with one hand gracefully concealed behind his coat tails, and the other waving in air to assist his glowing declamation; his elevated position revealing those tights and gaiters, which, had they clothed an ordinary man, might have passed without observation, but which, when Pickwick clothed them — if we may use the expression &mdasah; inspired involuntary awe and respect; surrounded by the men who had volunteered to share the perils of his travels, and who were destined to participate in the glories of his discoveries. On his right sat Mr. Tracy Tupman; the too susceptible Tupman, who to the wisdom and experience of maturer years superadded the enthusiasm and ardour of a boy in the most interesting and pardonable of human weaknesses, — love. Time and feeding had expanded that once romantic form; the black silk waistcoat had become more and more developed; inch by inch had the gold watch-chain beneath it disappeared from within the range of Tupman's vision; and gradually had the capacious chin encroached upon the borders of the white cravat: but the soul of Tupman had known no change & mdash; admiration of the fair sex was still its ruling passion. On the left of his great leader sat the poetic Snodgrass, and near him again the sporting Winkle; the former poetically enveloped in a mysterious blue cloak with a canine-skin collar, and the latter communicating additional lustre to a new green shooting-coat, plaid neckerchief, and closely-fitted drabs. [18]

Possibly because the engravings, whether on steel (Seymour's plate) or wood (Eytinge's), print in reverse, the figures in the negative are appropriately juxtaposed in each illustration. Whereas in the 1836 illustration the pictures in the background are of sporting events, Eytinge's single embedded illustration is of Stonehenge in Wiltshire, an indication that the artist decided to focus upon Pickwick as an antiquarian rather than the somewhat improbable founder of a Cockney sporting association. Like the Bronze Age ruin on the Salisbury Plain, the substantial Pickwick in tailcoat and gaiters, is a curiosity from a former age, the Regency, fast receding in memory by the 1860s.

Other artists who illustrated this work

References

Bentley, Nicolas, Michael Slater, and Nina Burgis. The Dickens Index. Oxford and New York: Oxford U. P., 1988.

Davis, Paul. Charles Dickens A to Z: The Essential Reference to His Life and Work. New York: Facts On File and Checkmark Books, 1998.

Dickens, Charles. Pickwick Papers (1836-37). Il. Hablot Knight Browne. The Charles Dickens Edition. Boston: Ticknor & Fields, 1867.

Dickens, Charles. The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. Il. Sol Eytinge; engraved by A. V. S. Anthony. Jr. The Diamond Edition. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1867.

Dickens, Charles. "Pickwick Papers (1836-37). Il. Hablot Knight Browne. The Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1873.

Dickens, Charles. "Pickwick Papers (1836-37). Il. Thomas Nast. The Household Edition. New York: Harper and Bros., 1873.

Guiliano, Edward, and Philip Collins, eds. The Annotated Dickens. Vol. 1. New York: Clarkson N. Potter, 1986.


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Last modified 1 February 2012