Jane Austen Illustrators: Niroot Puttapipat

Closeup of Elizabeth Bennet, by Niroot Puttapipat, Pride and Prejudice, The Folio Society (2006)In 1816 Jane Austen wrote to her nephew James Edward Austen describing her writing as “the little bit (two Inches wide) of Ivory on which I work with so fine a Brush, as produces little effect after much labour.” Two inches of ivory would be a reference to the art of miniature portraiture painted on ivory that was so popular in her lifetime. Interestingly, Austen described her talent so well and for nearly two hundred years this perception of her meticulously crafted miniatures of Regency era country families has prevailed. 

Illustration by Niroot Puttapipat, Pride and Prejudice, The Folio Society (2006)       Illustration by Niroot Puttapipat, Pride and Prejudice, The Folio Society (2006)    

Illustrations from Pride and Prejudice, The Folio Society (2006)

In illustrating Austen’s works, I have found that the artists who succeed in translating her exquisitely drawn characters and scenes are those who also apply the same fine brush to their work. Over the years, we have seen varied degrees of success at this attempt by prominent artists of their time; however Hugh Thomson, Charles E. Brock and Chris Hammond are prime examples of those who I feel have excelled. Recently, I have come to include illustrator Niroot Puttapipat in this group. His illustrations for The Folio Societies new editions of Pride and Prejudice (2006), Emma (2007), and Persuasion (2007), reveal a delicate and exacting touch that Austen would have appreciated. The finey bound and slip cased editions contain seven intimate and finely detailed pen & ink and watercolor drawings of important scenes from the novels and one cameo of each of the heroines on the front cover. Each piece is a masterwork at characterization, period detail and artistic craftsmanship.

Illustration by Niroot Puttapipat, Emma, The Folio Society (2007)

Illustration from Emma, The Folio Society (2007) 

Puttapipat’s attention to detail is remarkable, as each characters clothing and fabric match their appropriate station in life. The example above is one of my favorites from Emma and represents the scene where Emma Woodhouse is walking with Harriet Smith and Mr. Elton and contrives a broken shoe lace to lag behind to allow them to walk on together and advance her desire to cultivate their romance. The distinction between Emma’s fine attire in her pelisse, fur muff and elegant bonnet and her little friend Harriet’s more humble muslins shows great perception of class distinction during Austen’s times. This is an important theme in understanding the novel Emma, and Puttapipat has relayed it beautifully. 

I’m fascinated by history and historical costume anyway and have a good idea of (in this case) Regency/Empire clothing, but research is always important especially when illustrating something in a ‘real’ context. With period pieces such as these, it’s not only important to understand the clothes they wore, but the customs, manners, mores etc. 

Raised in Thailand, Puttapipat is the grandson of a Lan Na a Thai princess. His interest in art and literature was cultivated as a young child spending time drawing and acting out stories. A graduate of Kingston University, he now lives in London. You can visit him at Deviant Art and view many more images of his incredibly beautiful illustrations in his online gallery and catch up on his upcoming projects in his journal. Best of luck Niroot. We look forward to your future editions of Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility and Mansfield Park when you complete your commissions for The Folio Society.

Illustration by Niroot Puttapipat, Persuasion, The Folio Society (2007)     Illustration by Niroot Puttapipat, Persuasion, The Folio Society (2007)

Illustrations from Persuasion, The Folio Society (2007)

Purchase The Folio Society editions of Jane Austen’s novels.

Visit Niroot Puttapipat at Diviant Art

Jane Austen Illustrators: Isabel Bishop

Frontis illustration of Longbourn, by Isabel Bishop, Pride and Prejudice, Dutton (1976)
Longbourn (frontispiece) Pride and Prejudice, Dutton (1976)

Isabel Bishop (1902-1988) was an American Social Realist Painter and Printmaker, whose contribution of illustrations to E. P. Dutton & Company’s 1976 edition of Pride and Prejudice are quite remarkable. She has been described as “the best female artist America produced aside from Mary Cassatt“, and like Cassatt, Bishop’s success lies in her extraordinary drawing ability.

Illustration of Mr. Bennet, by Isabel Bishop, Pride and Prejudice, Dutton (1976)         Illustration of Kitty and Lydia Bennet, by Isabel Bishop, Pride and Prejudice, Dutton (1976)

(left) “Now Kitty, you may cough as much as you chuse.” page 9
(right) “A walk to Meryton was necessary to amuse their morning hours.” page 31

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Isabel Bishop knew early in her life that she was destined to be an artist, and in 1918 moved to New York City at the tender age of sixteen to study illustration at the New York School of Applied Design for Women. In 1920 she changed her emphasis to painting and transferred to the Art Students League where she studied under Kenneth Hayes Miller. During her studies there, she developed her realist technique as well as her sensitive approach to light and shadow.

Illustration of Mr. Collins, by Isabel Bishop, Pride and Prejudice, Dutton (1976)         Illustration of Elizabeth Bennet and Caroline Bingley, by Isabel Bishop, Pride and Prejudice, Dutton (1976)

(left) “Mr. Collins was at leisure to look around him and admire.” page 81
(right) “So, Miss Eliza, I hear you are quite delighted with George Wickham!” page 101

Bishop often depicted moving figures and crowds in New York’s Union Square, which the studio that she leased from 1934 to 1978 overlooked. She is best known for her paintings and drawings of working women, hoboes, and students. Also an accomplished draughtsman, she often produced etchings based on her paintings. Her body of work illustrated the changing face of Union Square from the post-Depression milieu of the 1930s to the war protesters and students of the 1960s and ’70s.” Encyclopedia Britannica

Illustration of Col. Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Bennet, by Isabel Bishop, Pride and Prejudice, Dutton (1976)          Illustration of Elizabeth Bennet, by Isabel Bishop, Pride and Prejudice, Dutton (1976)

(left) “They walked towards the Parsonage together.” page 193
(right) “Elizabeth laughed heartily at this picture of herself.” page 183

The choice of Isabel Bishop by publisher E.P. Dutton to illustrate their edition of Pride and Prejudice was the perfect blending of two acclaimed artists, novelists and painter, each renown for their sensitive and honest portrayal of women. The 31 black and white ink wash paintings relay Bishop’s command of technique and innovative style, and through her thoughtful and sympathetic consideration of the novel, she has aptly chosen significant scenes to illustrate, advancing the readers enjoyment and understanding of Jane Austen’s intensions.

Illustration of Elizabeth Bennet, by Isabel Bishop, Pride and Prejudice, Dutton (1976)          Illustration of Mr. Darcy & Elizabeth Bennet, by Isabel Bishop, Pride and Prejudice, Dutton (1976)

(left) “The examination of all the letters which
 Jane had written to her.” page 199
(right) “Mr. Darcy…holding out a letter.” page 207

Not only is Isabel Bishop an incredibly talented artist, it appears from her inclusion of an afterword in this edition that she does not contain the giant ego that some artists of this caliber exhibit, and offers some kind words about a fellow artist’s talent and the acclaim of Pride and Prejudice.

Illustration of Kitty Wickham, by Isabel Bishop, Pride and Prejudice, Dutton (1976)          Illustration of Mr. Wickham and Elizabeth Bennet, by Isabel Bishop, Pride and Prejudice (1976)

(left) “The door was thrown open, and she ran into the room.” page 333
(right) “She held out her hand; he kissed it with affectionate gallantry.” page 347

These drawings, for Pride and Prejudice, aim only to declare my own particular delight in the book – they are not trying the impossible task of embellishing an already complete and perfect work!

But my involvement in this undertaking has to do, also, with my feelings – wildly presumptuous – that in Jane Austen’s handling of the writer’s problem, certain minor factors relate (at the greatest possible distance) to my own efforts as an artist over fifty years. They are these: she doesn’t describe, in detail, environments; while she gives you the immediate social context of her characters, she is silent about the wider context (you don’t know the general economic situation, or that England was at war); she doesn’t allow you to care what people had on, or even about the details of their physiognomies! She governs the questions you are allowed to ask – she forbids any impulse to ask others! This sounds negative. (She herself said about her method that she “lop’t and crop’t”!) In the end what she presents to you as important convinces you utterly, in its completeness and humor, and its importance assumes monumentality.

In other words, she limits her esthetic problem and, in her case, gains great power through it.

What a lesson for visual art! In fact, the whole “modern” period of painting (since 1910) has been preoccupied with some aspect of this problem.

Isabel Bishop 1976

Illustration of Jane Bennet and Mr. Bingley, by Isabel Bishop, Pride and Prejudice, Dutton (1976)          Illustration of Elizabeth Bennet and Lady Catherine, by Isabel Bishop, Pride and Prejudice, Dutton (1976)     

(left) “Her sister and Bingley standing together.” page 365
(right) “I take no leave of you, Miss Bennet. I send no
compliments to your mother.” page 379

Isabel Bishop’s renderings of Jane Austen’s characters and scenes in the E. P. Dutton edition of Pride and Prejudice are one of my personal favorites from my collection of illustrated editions of Jane Austen novels. Visualizing Austen is of course a personal commitment since she gave us so little in physical descriptions. I must agree with Isabel Bishop though, that by omitting the details, she gains the greater power.

Photo of Isabel Bishop sketching

Image of Isabel Bishop painting in her New York Studio (1976)

Further reading

Isabel Bishop: print maker of Union Square

Images courtesy of Dutton Books © 1976; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2008, Austenprose.com

Jane Austen Illustrators: Chris Hammond

Image of book cover of Sense & Sensibility, George Allen, London (1899)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.