Arthur Rackham, 'The Professor Can't Stand that Sort of Thing'

Arthur Rackham, 'The Professor Can't Stand that Sort of Thing'

Arthur Rackham
'The Professor Can't Stand that Sort of Thing'
1932
Illustration, for 'Fairy Tales by Hans Andersen' (London: George G. Harrap & Co. Ltd., 1932)
Museum no. E.171-1969

The style of this illustration reveals Arthur Rackham's background as a caricature artist. It was made for Hans Christian Anderson's Fairy Tales, published in 1932. Nicknamed the 'beloved enchanter', Rackham was the leading British illustrator of the early 20th century. He is best known for his illustrations to fables and fairytales, featuring gnomes, fairies, ogres and plants and trees with human characteristics. He combined sometimes disturbing settings with humour, making his images loved by children and adults alike.

Rackham began his career drawing caricatures for magazines like the Pall Mall Budget and Punch. His career took off when he turned to fantasy illustration in 1898 and began to work in colour. He illustrated sumptuous gift-books until the 1920s. He continued to caricature even in his fantastical work, sometimes including portraits of himself. He said that whether or not an artist believed in the world of fairies, he 'must make it as real as if he did'. Even the furniture and crockery for the Mad Hatter's tea party in Alice in Wonderland (1907) were modelled on his own. Rackham continued to illustrate books into the 1930s. His last work, fulfilling a longstanding wish, was in 1936 for The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.

This image can be found in Prints and Drawings Study Room box EDUC 1.