Henry Holiday’s Snark

gheeraertMarcus Gheeraerts the Elder, The Image Breakers, c. 1566-1568

Some interesting detective work showing Henry Holiday’s borrowings from the above etching by Marcus Gheeraerts the Elder is here. As well as other artists playing with the Gheeraerts image. And below are some of Henry Holiday’s illustrations for Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark. Carroll invented the word snark. How Carroll’s Snark has transformed itself into its current usage is a mystery to me. “I was walking on a hillside, alone, one bright summer day, when suddenly there came into my head one line of verse–one solitary line–”For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.” I knew not what it meant, then: I know not what it means, now; but I wrote it down: and, sometime afterwards, the rest of the stanza occurred to me, that being its last line: and so by degrees, at odd moments during the next year or two, the rest of the poem pieced itself together, that being its last stanza.”–Lewis Carroll, Alice on the Stage, The Theatre, April 1887 In the midst of the word he was trying to say, In the midst of his laughter and glee, He had softly and suddenly vanished away– For the Snark was a Boojum, you see. holiday 6   holiday 7   holiday 1       holiday x   holiday8   holiday 9   holiday 3   holiday 5   holiday 2

About trueoutsider

I'm an artist.
This entry was posted in 19th Century British painters and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Henry Holiday’s Snark

  1. Marcia says:

    Another great post Bart!

    Marcia Finkelstein 505.385.8746


  2. goetzkluge says:

    Hi Bart,
    as for the detective work, I now maintain it in ipernity. You get there via http://www.snrk.de
    Best regards, Goetz

  3. trueoutsider says:

    Thanks, Marcia and Goetz. I’ll be looking at your links. I’m quite interested in buried/hidden images, being an artist who does a lot of that himself. … also enjoying putting in images that are upside down or images hidden inside other images. … A lot of Dali’s work fascinated me in this regard… and paradoxical images like the one Wittgenstein doted on… the Duck Rabbit. I have a lot of paradoxical images in my work as well. I’ve drawn a number of those Gheeraert heads, without having seen Gheeraert’s work, so there’s that as well. I wish I were able to view more of Gheeraert the Elder’s work as an internet search only pulls up a couple images.



  4. trueoutsider says:

    Thanks. I’m a big fan of James Elkin’s writing. His book “What Painting Is” is one of my favorite books on painting. I wasn’t aware of his picture puzzle book and will check into it. The Lipman/Marshall looks interesting as well. I note Leo Steinberg does the intro and you’d used a Steinberg quote (“all art is infested with other art”)

    I saw Steinberg do a slide lecture on his book , “The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and Modern Oblivion” where he pointed viewers to treatment of Christ’s genitals throughout the Renaissance. Unorthodox art history, to say the least.


    I like the paintings within paintings genre you point out on Public Domain… have done a lot of that as well… but nowhere near the extent of Samuel Morse and company. On top of that, Morse developed a telegraph, Morse code and was a founder of the National Academy of Design and its first president. Quite a guy.


  5. goetzkluge says:

    I didn’t know, what you wrote about Samuel Morse as an artist. I know Morse code though 🙂
    By the way, you got interesting websites. But I have to go to bed now. It’s already past 3 a.m. in Taipei (I am on vacation here). Until later – Goetz

  6. trueoutsider says:

    Have a good vacation! And keep me posted.


  7. trueoutsider says:

    Well, the idea of putting Doré’s Dante etching into the interview wasn’t mine. It was the writer’s. The writer, as is often the case, had no idea what I was talking about. I never mentioned Doré as an influence or inspiration because he wasn’t. I like Dorés work but he’s never been an influence.

    What I was talking about was drawing or painting the current hell that we live in, that I began to perceive this in the early 1980s and have only seen it grow worse since then. That Western Civilization is thoroughly bankrupt as evidenced by the emptiness of Contemporary Art (described in my last post). I found myself as, in effect, a kind of reverse-Hieronymous Bosch. Northern painters like Bosch and Brueghel were working at a time when mankind was emerging from the Dark Ages. I’m working at a time when we’re entering a new technologized/genetically mutated Dark Ages, where the intelligence of human beings is being critically degraded by their own technologies. (i suggest you read Dave Eggers’ The Circle for a good depiction of this.).

    But on another subject: Are you aware of Grandville’s wonderful work? The illustrator of Carroll’s Alice, John Tenniel, comes out of Grandville. So it would be interesting if we have another British illustrator sourcing another French artist for the Snark. Grandville was also seen to have influenced Carroll himself for the Alice book.


    How I work is talked about by Phil Guston here.:

    Of course, there are also influences that are largely unrecognized as these are influences that exist in the subconscious mind. These would be influences like Walt Disney and the rest of the TV brainwash that informed by childhood mind.

    • goetzkluge says:

      As for “hell”, I think the issues you are addressing are not just related to the Western Civilization. Basically, we now seem to get closer to the (thermodynamic) limits of our only partially open biosphere. I fear that the resulting struggle for ressources (energy sources, entropy drains) will get worse. In natural history, up to now there has been nothing which could be compared to the growth of the “footprint” of the human species. I don’t see a peaceful solution to that. Perhaps even hope has escaped from Pandora’s jar. As for “hell”, you and I might come to the same conclusions via different paths.

      As for Doré, I also think that what you do is closer to Hieronymous Bosch than to Doré. “reverse-Hieronymous Bosch” (as wou wrote) seems to be a better description than inspiration bz Hieronimus Bosch. By the way, your Work also makes me think of Max Beckmann. However, whatever influences there may be, in the end it’s Bart Johnson.

      As for Grandville, in the last year another snark hunter (John Tufail) drew my attention to a possible inspiration to Henry Holiday for a depiction of a Boojum turned Snark. But C. L. Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) did not want Holiday’s “Grandvillish” Snark (Boojum) to be published: http://www.ipernity.com/doc/goetzkluge/28526213

  8. trueoutsider says:

    I do feel a great affinity with Beckmann, as well as George Grosz and Weimar artists in general. I’d put them at the top of the list of 20th-century artists who have influenced my work and thinking about art. I’ve done a number of posts on them and other Weimar artists that you can search if you’re interested in seeing.

    I’d say it’s a certainty that things will get worse vis-a-vis global warming and resource wars.

    I like Holiday’s Grandvillish Snark. I wonder why Dodgson objected to it.

  9. goetzkluge says:

    Quite probably, Dodgson wanted to leave it to the imagination of his readers how the Snark looks like. I think, he was right. But he and Holiday found a good compromise: Holiday let a camouflaged Snark appear in the Barrister’s dream, again alluding to a pattern found in Gheeraert’s “head”: http://www.ipernity.com/doc/goetzkluge/22160049/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s