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Edward Detmold 1883-1957

Recently I’ve come across several books with absolutely gorgeous art plates, and the name Edward Detmold kept coming up, so I decided to learn about him.

Born in London, England in 1883, Edward Julius Detmold knew early on that he wanted to be an artist. He and his twin brother Charles Maurice (who went by Maurice) had already their first showings, of watercolors and etchings, by the time they reached 15 years of age. Their exploration and success weredue in large part to encouragement and financial support of their uncle and legal guardian, physican Edward Bulton Shuldham. The first publication to include the Detmold twins’ art was the 1899 work Pictures from Birdland. The pair were enjoying attention and success in their work, and showed great talent for and interest in the natural world, particularly animals. That ensured their next project was a perfect fit for them – the two provided a set of 16 watercolor paintings for The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, published in 1908. The brothers seemed bound for greatness when tragically and inexplicably, Maurice took his own life by poison at the age of 24. Little has ever been revealed about the reasons for the suicide, which left Edward shocked. He focused harder than ever on his art, and produced his first solo project for the 1909 Fables of Aesop, consisting of 23 color plates as well as numerous other embellishments throughout the book. He belonged to booming era of illustrators which produced the likes of Edmund Dulac, Willy Pogany and N.C. Wyeth, and followed closely on the heels of big-name pioneers like Arthur Rackham. Here are a few of the books Detmold illustrated:

And here you can get a lovely and detailed look inside Fabre’s Book of Insects, a non-fiction re-telling, by Mrs. Rodolph Stawell, of a translation of the original French “Souvenirs Entomologique” by Jean-Henri Fabre. Souvenirs Entomologique was a ten-part series published in the late 19th century. The original retelling was published in 1921, and my copy, the 1935 reprint, by the Tudor Publishing Company in New York., was surprisingly, wonderfully affordable and contains all 12 of these lovely, tissue-guarded color plates.

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