ILLUSTRATOR CHRIS HAMMOND
Over the past 170 years, many have attempted to illustrate Jane Austen’s characters and scenes from her novels, but few have succeeded to complement her intent as well as the late 19th-century artists Chris Hammond. I rather think that Jane Austen would have approved of Miss Hammond. Their lives had similar parallels and they could have been kindred spirits.
She was born Christiana Mary Demain Hammond in 1860 in Camberwell near London, England. She was the first daughter of Elsa Mary and Horatio Demain Hammond who was a bank clerk in Newington, Surrey. She had a sister Gertrude who was two years younger, and they shared an interest in art and studied together at The Lambeth School of Art. Chris would later be accepted at the prestigious Royal Academy of Art in London, where she studied life drawing and excelled in watercolour painting.
In the late 1880’s, work opportunities for professional women artists were not as readily available as they were for men, so she beat them at their game and abbreviated her name to Chris. This slight deception allowed her to earn equal pay for the same work as her contemporary male artists such as Hugh Thomson and Charles E. Brock.
She was a renown painter and pen and ink artists and exhibited at The Royal Academy in 1886, 1891, 1892, 1893 & 1894; and with The Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours 1886, 1895. She illustrated for various papers and magazines including Cassells Magazine, Quiver, English Illustrated Magazine, St. Paul’s and other leading periodicals. Her book illustrations include the classic writers including Jane Austen, Thackery, Mrs. Gaskell, George Elliot, Goldsmith and Edgeworth.
Of all of Jane Austen illustrators, I find her drawings more sensitive to the characters and more expressive of their true emotions. Her pen and ink line drawings show her confident style, with her sophisticated use of light and shadow. I appreciate her astute use of appropriate attitudes and expressions of the characters, and her respect for the period costumes and scenery.
These examples are from her 80 plus illustrations from Sense & Sensibility published by George Allen of London in 1899. She also illustrated other Jane Austen novels for the same publisher; Emma in 1898 and Pride & Prejudice in 1900.
Miss Hammond would never marry, and like Jane Austen, died quite young in 1900 in London at age 39. Because of her brief career 1886-1899, her volume of work is not as extensive as her contemporaries, and sadly she is not as well known. She had the last word though, since her work survives today in her classic book and magazine illustrations which can command higher prices in the collector market than her male contemporaries.