J. Clayton Clarke ("Kyd")
Watercolour reproduced on John Player cigarette card no. 39
Character from Dickens's David Copperfield
Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham
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In Kyd's sequence of fifty cards, fully 13 or over 25% concern a single novel, The Pickwick Papers, attesting to the enduring popularity of the picaresque comic novel and also suggesting that the later, darker novels such as Our Mutual Friend (two characters) and The Mystery of Edwin Drood (no characters depicted) offered little for the caricaturist, the only late characters in the series being the singularly unpleasant and physically odd Silas Wegg and the rough waterman Rogue Riderhood from Our Mutual Friend, and Turveydrop, Jo, Bucket, and Chadband from Bleak House. The popular taste was clearly still towards the earlier farce and character comedy of Dickens. The series, however, includes a total of six character cards from the cast of David Copperfield (May 1849 through November 1850), or 12% of the total: the affable master of English rhetoric Wilkens Micawber, no. 41; the oppressed child who becomes a novelist, David Copperfield, no. 39; the rigid and mean-spirited Mr. Murdstone, no. 37; the crotchety but warm-hearted Betsey Trotwood, no. 36; the devious, unctuous Uriah Heep, no. 38; and the stalwart pater familias Dan' Peggotty, no. 40 — characterisations based on the original serial illustrations of Dickens's regular visual interpreter in the 1840s, Phiz, who produced forty steel-engravings and the wrapper design for the Bradbury and Evans nineteen-month serial, as well as a wood-engraved frontispiece of Little Em'ly and David as children on the Yarmouth sands for the first cheap edition (1858) and two vignettes for the two-volume Library Edition: Little Em'ly and David by the Sea and Mr. Peggotty's Dream Comes True.
Although Kyd's representations are largely based on the original illustrations by Hablot Knight Browne (Phiz), the modelling of the figures is suggestive of those of celebrated Dickensian illustrator Fred Barnard for the Household Edition volume 3 (1871). The anomaly, of course, is that Kyd should elect to depict minor figures from the first Dickens novel such as the Dingley Dell cricketers Dumkins and Luffey and the minor antagonist Major Bagstock in Dombey and Son, but omit significant characters from such later, still-much-read novels as A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations. Five of the fifty cards or 10% of the series come from the cast of The Adventures of Oliver Twist; or, The Parish Boy's Progress (1837-39): Oliver himself, asking for more; Fagin with his toasting fork, from the scene in which he prepares dinner for his crew; Sikes holding a beer-mug, and the Artful Dodger in an oversized adult topcoat and crushed top-hat, as he appeared at his trial. Surprisingly, some of the other significant characters, including Nancy and Rose Maylie, are not among the first set of fifty characters, in which Kyd exhibits a strong male bias, as he realizes only seven female characters: only the beloved Nell, the abrasive Sally Brass, and the quirky Marchioness from The Old Curiosity Shop, Sairey Gamp from Martin Chuzzlewit, Aunt Betsey Trotwood from David Copperfield, the burly Mrs. McStinger from Dombey and Son, and the awkward Fanny Squeers from Nicholas Nickleby appear in the essentially comic cavalcade.
Kyd's chief model for David as a child who determines to leave the loathsome toil of the wine-bottling factory (and take the road to Dover to see if his aunt will be prepared to accept him) was probably I make myself known to my Aunt (September 1849: Chapter 12), especially since in this early illustration David is wearing a battered hat 9even though he does not appear to be blond-haired). However, for the facial features of David as a child Kyd had no shortage of models since the boy (in a more prosperous state) appears in ten other serial illustrations, as well as in eighteen of Fred Barnard's Household Edition wood-engravings in volume 3 (1872), particularly the half-page wood engraving depicting David's encountering the insane used-clothing salesman on his way to Dover, "Oh, my lungs and liver, will you go for threepence?" (Chapter XIII, "The Sequel of My Resolution"). In all likelihood, Kyd never saw an 1867 Diamond Edition volume of the novel, and therefore was not influenced by Sol Eytinge, Junior's David's Bargain, whose image of the ragged David is more consistent with Phiz's original than with Kyd's. The waif who became a successful novelist is not so far from the real background of David Copperfield's creator as such later illustrators as Fred Barnard, Kyd, and Harry Furniss well knew, all having had access to John Forster's Life of Charles Dickens. In the case of Kyd's image of the ragged boy, the artist's design suggests the influence of the work of a previous illustrator, namely the uncaptioned title-page vignette in the Household Edition volume, David Copperfield at the milestone (1872), which in turn was based on an illustration of the previous year, Oliver at the milestone, the title-page vignette for James Mahoney's Household Edition volume of The Adventures of Oliver Twist (1871).
Created 15 January 2015