There are 29 color (+ 5 in b&w) Harry Rountree
pictures in issue #3
and he's in #4, 5 & 11
Three pages of Rountree (14 pictures from 1902!)
First Annual Collection
and he's also in #5.
Nothing that I'm going to say will be sufficient to explain the appeal of Harry Rountree. I could throw the word "favorite" around some more, but that wouldn't convey enough. How about this? I own about four pieces of original art - actual paintings and drawings. One was given to me (to Karen, actually), and the others I bought. Two of those are by Harry Rountree. That's how much I like Harry Rountree!
Harry came to London from New Zealand in 1901. He was 23 years
old and determined to make his mark on the then-flourishing magazine
and book market. He didn't. For two years he struggled, studied
and sold the occasional spot drawing. It wasn't until the editor
of Little Folks magazine gave him a commission to illustrate
a story with an animal that he found his calling. Suddenly he
could do no wrong. By 1903 he was illustrating books for the editor
of Little Folks, writing and illustrating his own books,
and in demand by nearly every publisher in London. One of the
earliest I've seen is Fairy Tales by Dumas from
1904 (see image at right), where his inspiration seems clearly
from W. Heath Robinson.
Animals, animals, animals. Books, magazines, annuals. From 1903 to 1942, Rountree's pens and brushes gave life to every species from dormice to dinosaurs. His 1908 Alice in Wonderland, with 90+ color plates, is considered to be both his masterpiece and one of the definitive versions of the Carroll classic. He returned to the tale later in his career and the mouse above is one of many endearing images he created (this from The Collins Clear-Type Press c1925 edition).
At right is one of the coloured plates from the Ward, Lock edition of Aesop's Fables, a book he was destined to illustrate. One book that should have been, but never came about, was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World. When the story was first published in The Strand magazine as a serial in 1912, Rountree was called upon to illustrate the installments. In the U.S., the task was given to Joseph Clement Coll (for The Sunday Magazine). Coll's illustrations graced the book and Rountree's have languished in literary limbo. A recent book by Roy Pilot and Alvin Rodin, The Annotated Lost World (1996 Wessex Press) have resurrected Rountree's illustrations for posterity. A sample is at left, and another large image reproduced from the original is below.
I literally stumbled onto Rountree early in my collecting career (I guess I can now officially call it a "career," can't I?). While browsing through the shelves of an old book store, I came across a 1910 book about a mountain range in Italy, both book and mountains called The Dolomites. The watercolour paintings that illustrated the travelogue were both stunning and charming. I bought the book because I loved the images and it wasn't until ten or so years later that Bud Plant explained to me who Rountree was and showed me the books he'd collected. At left is one of the 18 plates in The Dolomites and a perfect example of why you should just buy the books you like and not worry about what you know about the illustrator or how good of an investment you're making. Buy from the heart and you'll always be happy with your purchases.
Another 1910 treasure (reprinted in 1988) is The Golf Courses of the British Isles, with 64 color plates by Rountree. An avid golfer, he teamed up with Bernard Darwin on text to play through the links in England, Ireland and Scotland. A treasure that sells in the many thousands of dollars to golf aficionados, this 1988 Storey reprint will have to suffice for we Rountree appreciators. Most of his color work was in watercolour and as you can see from the samples here, they need no adjectives from me. The frontispiece to Caesar, at left, was done in 1930 and has a haunting power reminiscent of some of Frazetta's work.
Active through most of his career in magazines, especially those for children, Rountree created thousands of illustrations of an uncompromising quality. Even his little marginal vignettes were often priceless. Some titles that featured his work: Punch, The Strand, Cassell's, Pearson's, The Sketch, The Illustrated London News, Playtime, Little Folks, and many others.
Authors whose work he's illustrated include the aforementioned Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Enid Blyton, S.H. Hamer (the editor of Little Folks who first hired him), Joel Chandler Harris, Edith Nesbit, Albert Bigelow Paine, Frank R. Stockton, H.G. Wells, and dozens by Harry and/or his wife Lynda.
Rountree died in 1950. His photo at right is taken from a work
in progress by William Stout, who's compiling a bibliography and
biography of Rountree. Long overdue. We hope he finishes soon.
Anything we can do to help, Bill, just let us know.
|I mentioned my two Rountree originals and I think this is the perfect venue to share these great images. I don't know the source of either, or even if they were ever published. Anyone with additional information? Please let me know. You can see them up close in ImageS #3.|
|While we're trying to track down origins, Jean Noble
saw this page
and sent me a scan of a great Rountree that she owns.
Check out the cover of ImageS #3 below.
If you know if and where this great painting was ever published, please share that information.
To find out more about Harry Rountree, see:
|The Dictionary of British Book Illustrators and Caricaturists 1800-1914||Simon Houfe, 1981 Antique Collectors' Club|
|Book Illustrators of the Twentieth Century||Brigid Peppin & Lucy Micklethwait, 1984 Arco|
|The Illustration World of Harry Rountree (a work in progress)||William Stout, 1998 Terra Nova|
|The Vadeboncoeur Collection of Knowledge||Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr., 1998|
|The Vadeboncoeur Collection of ImageS 3-5, 11, B&W 1, 5||Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr., 2002, 2003, 2009, 2010 JVJ Publishing|
Illustrations copyright by their respective owners.
This page written, designed & © 1998 by Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr. Updated 2002, 2011.