Illustrations of Great Expectations
Harry Furniss's eighteen-volume edition of The Charles Dickens Library Edition (London: Educational Book Company, 1910) contains some 500 special plates (part of the total of 1200 illustrations) and two volumes of commentary. Volume 17, by series editor J. A. Hammerton, is entitled The Dickens Picture Book: A Record of the Dickens Illustrators. In this volume, Hammerton compares the impressionist work of Furniss with the more conventional realisations of the great Household Edition illustrator Fred Barnard and the great recorder of London life, French illustrator Gustav Doré, in "The Art of Mr. Harry Furniss." Inevitably, he compares the renderings of Dickens's characters by these roughly contemporary artists with those of Dickens's greatest partner in illustration, Phiz, or Hablot Knight Browne:
It is not too much to assert that in every case where our artist has chosen a scene originally treated by Phiz and later by Fred Barnard, he has touched it to new life. In comparison with Phiz, the splendid vigour of his line, his superior sense of character, his more refined and subtler humour, his infinitely greater sense of beauty, and the general feeling of actuality resulting from drawing from the life, make Mr. Furniss's illustrations so vastly to be preferred that it is needless to emphasise the contrast. [Vol. 17, p. 33]
That Barnard rarely chose to assail a scene already rendered by the great Phiz Hammerton does not pause to consider; nor is he inclined to see the value in Phiz's detailism. An admirer of Fred Barnard's Household Edition illustrations, he still gives the nod to his contemporary, Harry Furniss: "There is little to choose between the two artists in the beautiful confidence and grace of their lines, and still less in their portraiture of individual characters" (30), he concedes, but disparages Barnard's handling of group scenes as "tame and lifeless" (30). The title-page vignettes of the seventeenth volume contain approximately forty of Dickens's best known characters, ranging from such early comic studies as Samuel Pickwick (top centre) to later figures such as the indefatigable Wilkins Micawber (upper right), the hyperbolic hypocrite Seth Pecksniff (lower right), and the irascible Wackford Squeers (upper left).
The eighteenth and final volume, again by Hammerton, is entitled The Dickens Companion: A Book of Anecdote and Reference.
Although all the plates of volume 14, Great Expectations and Reprinted Pieces, contain captions, some offer quoted text and refer to page numbers in the edition while others do not. Since each page is 12 by 18.2 cm (4.75 by 7.25 inches) and their margins of 2 cm (3.125 inches by 6.375 inches), with a caption below each in upper-case, and often below that a quotation in upper and lower case, each plate is effectively 14 cm by 8 cm (5.5 inches by 3.25 inches). — Philip V. Allingham.
Illustrations for Dickens's Great Expectations by other artists
- J. Clayton Clarke ("Kyd") (2 plates)
- Felix O. C. Darley (2 plates)
- F. A. Fraser (28 plates)
- Charles Green (8 plates)
- Frederic W. Pailthorpe (12 plates)
- Marcus Stone (10 plates)
Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations. Volume 6 of the Household Edition. Il. Charles Green. London: Chapman and Hall, 1871-1879 [this volume 1876]. Note: All material is reproduced courtesy of The Charles Dickens Museum, 48 Doughty Street, London WC1N 2LF.
Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations. "With 28 Original Plates by Harry Furniss." Volume 14 of the Charles Dickens Library Edition. London: Educational Book Co., 1910. Note: All material except the title-page vignettes "Characters in the Story" is reproduced courtesy of The Charles Dickens Museum, 48 Doughty Street, London WC1N 2LF
Hammerton, J. A. The Dickens Picture-Book: A Record of the Dickens Illustrators. Vol. 17 of the Charles Dickens Library Edition, il. Harry Furniss. London: Educational Book, 1910.
Last modified 28 January 2013