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Friday, 9 March 2018

Painting of the Month (80) March 2018: W. Heath Robinson

William Heath Robinson, 1872-1944, was a British painter, illustrator and cartoonist who achieved a level of fame in the First World War with his humorous drawings of incredibly complicated machines which were designed to perform extremely simple tasks. In the USA you may be familiar with the term Rube Goldberg machine which gives you an idea of what he was all about. These days the expression "a Heath Robinson machine" refers to something that seems to be over complicated. You may be aware of the machinery in the Wallace and Gromit animated films. That.
The Rescue
Putting holes into Double Gloucester cheese using the Gruyere method
William Heath Robinson was an illustrator of books of poems by Edgar Allen Poe and Rudyard Kipling and of other children's books in an Art Nouveau style similar to that of Aubrey Beardsley. His talent as an artist is sadly overlooked due to the continuing popularity of his other work.
I couldn't argue if you said he was an illustrator rather than a fine artist but I still think he deserves to be considered for artistic skills.
For Poe's The Raven
"So full of shapes is fancy" from Twelfth Night
     Illustration for A Song of the English 1909                           The artist in his studio
I'm listening to Miley Cyrus who made a surprisingly good cover of Dylan's You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go.
Listen here, it's hugely enjoyable!


Parnassus said...

Hello Bazza, I have heard of W. Heath Robinson as an illustrator, but was unfamiliar with his work, and especially with his Rube Goldberg-like drawings, which look as though they could have been an influence on Dr. Seuss. Thanks for alerting me to Robinson--I'll be on the lookout now.

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

Looking at these illustrations/art made me smile, and we can all surely use that.

Miley Cyrus has matured into a very talented artist. I like her also and expect that she will have a very long career.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Bazza - we used to have Heath Robinson books around our home, as did other members of our family ... he was incredibly inventive in his ideas. He's such a great illustrator, cartoonist and as you've shown us ... artist. Love the Song of the English artwork ... cheers Hilary

bazza said...

Jim: They opened a museum of his work in London a couple of years ago. It holds about a thousand pieces of his output. I sometimes think that the phrase is more well known than his drawings these days!

bazza said...

Arleen: Oh yes, anything that makes us laugh must be preserved and appreciated.
I was surprised by how talented Miley Cyrus is!

bazza said...

Hilary: I suppose he is a particularly British, or even English, taste! He has beautifully illustrated many books and even written three children's books.

Hels said...

I loved Aubrey Beardsley's use of Art Nouveau which was attractive and, at least on the surface, respectful. William Heath Robinson looks as if he was Beardsley's pupil, but with no respect at all. Here's to you, Mr Robinson!!!

bazza said...

Hels: There's no way that Heath Robinson (or his Mrs!) approached the quality of Beardsley, of course, but he did offer us something to value apart from the lovely wistful humour; he was a skilled draughtsman and designer of his work and, on occasions, did produce beauty.
I do really enjoy the 'contraption' cartoons best though!

Sherry Ellis said...

He seems to have liked gears and wheels. Definitely a unique style for a children's book illustrator. I enjoyed looking at his work.

bazza said...

Sherry: Not quite right for your books I think!