'The Hare was once boasting of his speed before the other animals.
"I have never yet been beaten," said he, "when I put forth my full speed. I challenge any one here to race with me."
The Tortoise said quietly, "I accept your challenge."
"That is a good joke," said the Hare; "I could dance round you all the way."
"Keep your boasting till you've beaten," answered the Tortoise. "Shall we race?"
So a course was fixed and a start was made. The Hare darted almost out of sight at once, but soon stopped and, to show his contempt for the Tortoise, lay down to have a nap. The Tortoise plodded on and plodded on, and when the Hare awoke from his nap, he saw the Tortoise just near the winning-post and could not run up in time to save the race.
Then said the Tortoise: "Plodding wins the race."'
Helen Ward, illustration printed from ink
Illustration printed from ink, watercolour and gouache drawing
From 'Hare and the Tortoise'
Published by Templar, London
National Art Library Pressmark: 60.HH.189
Helen Ward is known for her vibrant and dynamic picture books featuring birds or animals. She paints in watercolour and gouache, sometimes removing colour to achieve more tonal variety, and uses a Rapidograph pen for detail. She designs the whole page layout in her picture books, which she says can take about six months to make. Sometimes drawing from life, she also makes use of wildlife films to observe movement.
A major influence was the Ashmolean's Impey collection of Indian 18th century natural history paintings, which impressed her for the 'crispness of the execution, and the fact that the drawing, though objective, is not entirely realistic'.
Ward studied at Brighton Art School in the 1980s with ambitions to become a natural history illustrator. On graduating, she was approached by publisher Templar and has made illustrated books for them ever since. Recent work includes a contribution to 'Templar's Ologies' series, a picture book 'Wonderful Life' about a rodent who studies wildlife on another planet, and 'Varmints', soon to be an animated film about noise pollution.
'The Hare & Tortoise. On the Value of the Present Moment', chromo-lithographed illustrations
'The Hare & Tortoise. On the Value of the Present Moment'
From 'The child's illuminated fable-book'
Published by William Smith, London
National Art Library Pressmark: 60.V.25
This ornate image is chromolithography at its most elaborate. An expensive process using a different stone to print each colour, chromolithography was first used just to print one or two overall colours. Later it was used for luxury colour-illustrated gift books from about 1840. The most ornate designs had dozens of bright colours, silver and gold. Cheaper methods replaced chromolithography after 1880.
Lithography, invented by Alois Senefelder in 1798, works on the principle that oil and water repel each other. A design is drawn onto smooth limestone using a greasy medium. The stone is wet and oily ink is applied with a roller. It sticks to the greasy lines but avoids the wet parts of the stone.
John Vernon Lord, 'The Hare and the Tortoise'
John Vernon Lord
'The Hare and the Tortoise'
Illustration from wood-engravings
From 'Aesop's Fables', retold in verse by James Mitchie
Published by Jonathan Cape, London
National Art Library Pressmark: 60.HH.46
John Vernon Lord (born 1939) used the area around his home in Ditchling, Sussex, as setting for his Aesop's Fables illustrations. His pen and ink drawings are painstaking in their detail and resemble wood engravings. Lord used mapping and Rotring pens and sometimes a blunted ruler for parallel lines. Wax was sometimes added to the paper to resist the ink, giving a luminescence to some of the backgrounds. In an essay on 'Hatching', Lord wrote; "The editing and selection of gap-making is fundamental to drawing… A picture is made up of a balancing between the making, the removing, and the not-making of marks."
Lord has been a prolific illustrator for nearly fifty years as well as teaching illustration at Brighton Art College. His past work includes an album cover for Deep Purple's 'The Book of Taliesyn' in 1968 and book illustrations to 'The Giant Jam Sandwich' in 1972 and 'The Nonsense Verse' by Edward Lear in 1984, both published by Jonathan Cape. He still illustrates, working now with the Inky Parrott Press on Lewis Carroll's 'Alice in Wonderland'.
Thomas Bewick, 'The Hare and the Tortoise'
'The Hare and the Tortoise'
From 'Fables of Aesop and others'
Printed by E. Walker for Thomas Bewick, Newcastle
National Art Library Pressmark: G.28.Y.1b
Thomas Bewick (1753-1828) is famous for his wood-engraved illustrations. He used a method called 'white-line' engraving, a dark-to-light technique where the lines to remain white are cut out of the woodblock. Transfer drawings show that he followed just general outlines, creating the extraordinary detail directly on the block.
Boxwood cut across the end-grain is hard enough for engraving, allowing greater detail than woodcutting. Wood engraving was used since 1600 for simple ornaments in books but Bewick fully exploited it by lowering areas of the block, creating more depth of light and tone.
With his partner Ralph Beilby in Newcastle, Bewick published ambitious illustrated books of animals like 'General History of Quadrupeds' (1790) and 'History of British Birds' (1797-1804).
Walter Crane, 'The Hare and the Tortoise'
'The Hare and the Tortoise'
Colour wood-engraved by Edmund Evans
From 'The baby's own Aesop: being the fables condensed in rhyme', adapted from William James Linton
Published by Frederick Warne, London
National Art Library Pressmark: 60.C.108
This image comes from a toy-book designed by Walter Crane (1845-1915) and printed by Edmund Evans (1826-1905) using colour wood-engraving. Crane imitated the highly developed methods of Japanese colour woodblock printing, recently discovered by Europeans, which Evans reproduced.
Edmund Evans (1826-1905) is one of the best-known European colour wood-engravers of the 19th century. The care he took with colours attracted well-known illustrators like Crane to work with him, including Kate Greenaway and Randolph Caldecott. He used a new invention, photography, to transfer illustrators' work onto the woodblocks, making reproduction easier than copying.
Marcus Gheeraerts, 'De Lieure & de la Tortuë' (The Hare and the Tortoise)
'De Lieure & de la Tortuë' (The Hare and the Tortoise)
Etching and engraving
From 'Esbatement moral des animaux' by Peeter Heyns
Published by Philippe Galle in Antwerp
National Art Library Pressmark: 86.D.117
This book, published by Phillip Galle, re-uses the etched plates made for another book. 'De warachtige fabulen der dieren', published by De Dene in 1567, was one of the earliest to show the fine effects possible with etched rather than engraved illustration.
In etching, an image is drawn on a metal plate through an acid-resistant wax coating using a special needle. The plate is heated to harden the remaining wax and then dipped into acid, which bites into the drawn lines making grooves.
Etcher and engraver Marcus Gheeraerts (about 1516 - about 1604) was from Bruges. His fable illustrations became famous and were often copied or imitated. His style also influenced later artists like Wenceslaus Hollar and Francis Barlow.