Richard Doyle was one of the most prevalent and favorite illustrators of the Victorian era. He was born in Hyde Park in 1824 to Marianna Cannon and John Doyle.(Carpenter 1984, 157) John Doyle was an Irishman who was exiled from his own country through religious persecution.
Richard Doyle was one of seven children, all whom inherited talent. Around the age of fifteen he began keeping a journal of various family events and celebrations. This work would later become Dick Doyle's Journal: a Journal Kept by Richard Doyle in the Year 1840. Richard Doyle documented many accounts of his life as a child, but the most telling entry included a portrayal of how he and his siblings vied for the approval of their father at the Sunday morning art shows (Hambourgh 1948, 10). This work of course is done in very dramatic illustrations and can be seen in the Journal. The Journal, done in an album and a style that was appropriate for that time, not only included letters, social notes and annotations but it was filled with beautiful miniature art. A significant entry into the Journal was the account of the death of his youngest brother Francis, who John Doyle "thought to be the most gifted of his sons"(Hambourgh 1948, 12). Richard Doyle however was the most ingenious of the children. It was about 1840 that young Doyle began to demonstrate a gift for painting. His particular gift was painting parades, processions, and historical pageantry (Something About the Author). His artistic ability matured shortly thereafter and it is said that he never improved beyond this level.
Although there were many teachers and influences in Doyle's life as an artist, the facets of his gifts and abilities emerged under the influence of his father and uncle. John Doyle was well known for his brilliant portrait paintings and caricatures. His uncle Michael Conan was editor for the Art Journal, an expert in old masters, and an authority on Medieval Renaissance. During his education at home Doyle often traveled to the house of "Hilton," a famous and historical painter whose work profoundly affected him and sparked Doyle with great enthusiasm and aspiration. However it was Joseph Swain who most influenced his work by introducing to Richard the secret of drawing on wood, and as a result Doyle's career was dramatically affected. Joseph Swain became his "unspoken mentor."
Although John Doyle had tremendous influence on Richard Doyle, there is evidence that some of Richard's earlier works escaped the influence of his father and they proved to be genius. There was no doubt that his ingenuousness was revealed in the Journal, however his brilliance showed primarily in a portfolio of drawings named Dick Kitcat's Book of Nonsense.
Richard Doyle's first published work was The Eglinton Tournament, which surfaced in 1840. Doyle received high praise for this work. It was met with "instant and overwhelming appreciation, to the great joy of the creator: 'Has there ever been anything like it since the beginning of the world?' and 'This is certainly something beyond belief" (Hambourgh 1948, 6). This earlier work was accomplished in Chinese ink with quill pen. His work reflected the mastery of his use of light and the smoothness and elegance of his touch that were not seen in his later works.
Much of Richard Doyle's work was distorting mirror effects. He drew enlarged heads and distorted torsos and bodies with the heads of animals. He dwarfed them with hats of grotesque shapes. It is said that Richard's Doyle's own cartoons were disappointing to him and he was often displeased with his work. The Dalziel Brothers, who engraved most of Doyle's work complained both of the strange and eerie work and that Doyle made a habit of snatching back drawings before they went to press (Hambourgh 1948, 16).
Doyle's earlier work had been the literature of chivalry and his first picture books were those of armor and heraldic science which no doubt influenced the material in The Eglinton Tournament.
Richard Doyle was known to have a lively, most engaging personality and a brilliant sense of humor. These traits would later serve him well as a cartoonist for the magazine Punch. Doyle secured this appointment to Punch with the help of his uncle who showed the editor of the paper Doyle's first published work for which he had received high praise. He began his work at Punch in 1843 at the age of 19 and it was at this point that Doyle's Christmas borders were submitted for the Punch Almanac (Hambourgh 1948, 15). While at Punch, Doyle made significant contributions to the humor magazine including the cover which later became famous and was used for over a century. Doyle also began his work "Manners and Customs" series while at Punch, which earned him great notoriety. During this time he illustrated The Fairy Ring: A New Collection of Popular Tales, published in 1846. Doyle's work at the magazine brought him a bountiful measure of esteem.
In 1850 Doyle left Punch because he objected to the magazines attacks on the papacy (Carpenter 1984, 157). After Doyle's departure from Punch he focused primarily on illustrations and water color painting. He worked on several fairyland illustrations loved by his contemporaries and later became best known for them. In 1855, he produced Juvenile Calendar and Zodiac of Flowers which were considered some of his best decorative and delightful works.
After Doyle's work in 1855 there appeared to be a period where he created very few illustration for children. In the late 1800's, Doyle was known as a leading illustrator of "fairyland" figures as seen in illustrations for Dicken's The Cricket on the Hearth. Nixes and pixies, giants and dwarfs, trolls, and kobolds, wood-sprites, birds and butterflies typically populated his supernatural world. Some of Doyle's most exquisite and superb works can be found in Fairyland (Something About the Author).
Between 1868 and 1876 he illustrated and produced a significant amount of work. One of his best known works was M. Lemon's, In Fairy Land, 1868. It was because of this work he became the leading illustrator of "fairyland" figures.
This work was followed by Fairyland: Pictures from the Elf World, 1869. Doyle continued to creatively achieve and in 1871 he illustrated three books, The Enchanted Crow, and Other Famous Fairy Tales, Feast of the Dwarfs, and Other Famous Fairy Tales, and Snow White and Rosy Red, with Other Famous Tales.
Doyle's work became "the rage" and he became one of the most "sought after" bachelors by the hostesses of the day, who vied with one another to entice him to attend to their parties and country home gatherings (Hambourgh 1948, 23).
The man described by a contemporary as 'just the sort of artist a child would ask to do a funny little man on paper," (Hambourgh 19438, 27) was also childless and Doyle unquestionably and absolutely found this to be a tragedy in his life.
For several years prior to Doyle's death, he endured attacks of apoplexy. which eventually caused his death in 1883 as he left the "Athenaeum Club" he suffered a seizure and never regained consciousness. After his death, his sister worked diligently to preserve Doyle's studio as he had left it, and on the easel where he once painted was left the "study of a churchyard in Devonshire" unfinished. It was due to the efforts of his sister that his works were published posthumously between 1884 and 1897.
Carpenter and Princhard. The Oxford Companion to Children's Literature. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1984.
Hambourgh, Daria. Richard Doyle, His Life and Work. London: Art and Technics, 1948.
"Richard Doyle." Something About the Author. v. 21. Detroit: Gale Research, 1980.
Winner, Viola Hopkins. "Thackeray and Richard Doyle, the Wayward Artist of the Newcomes." Harvard Library Bulletin 26 (May 1978 ) 193-211.
Canham, Stephen. "Art and the illustrations of Vanity Fair and the Newcomes." A History Of Book Illustration: 29 Points of View, 11(1994): 690.
Cohen, R. Jane. Charles Dickens And His Original Illustrators. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1980.
Engen, K. Rodney. Richard Doyle. New York: Catapla, 1985.
Hambourg, Daria. Richard Doyle: His Life And His Work. London: Art and Technics, 1948.
Hunt, Peter. Children's Literature: An Illustrated History. New York: Oxford UP, 1995.
Lambourne, D.B. "Two Books Full of Nonsense and Other Works by Richard Doyle". Burlington Magazine, (May 1978) : 120-190.
Nymphets and Fairies: Three Victorian Children's Illustrators. New York: St. Martins Press, 1976.
Olmsted, C. John. "Richard Doyle's Illustrations to The Newcomes," Studies in the Novel. 13 (Spring-Summer 1981) : 93-108.
"Richard Doyle." Something About the Author. v. 21. Detroit: Gale Research, 1980.
"Richard Doyle and his family: An exhibition held at the Victoria and Albert Museum 30th November 1983 to 26th February, 1984". London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1983.
Rogerson, Ian. Richard Doyle, Illustrator. Manchester: Manchester Polytechnic Library, 1982.
Sotheby and Co. Catalogue Of English Illustrated Books Of The 19th And 20th Centuries. London: Sotheby and Company, 1974.
Winner, Hopkins, Viola. "Thackeray and Richard Doyle, the wayward artist of the Newcomes." Harvard Library Bulletin, 26 (May 1978): 193-211.
Bibliography of Non-Print Sources
"Richard Doyle Art Links." Art Cyclopedia. 30 June 2009
Part III Bibliography of Works Illustrated and/or Written by Robert Doyle
NOTE: This bibliography does not include reprints, translations, compilations, serial illustrations, non-book items for home decoration such as wallpaper and tiles, or the picture books -- mostly unpublished. In addition, books to which Doyle contributed but did not illustrate entirely are not included.
Items held by the Univeristy of Pittsburgh are followed by the item's location and call number.
Allingham, William. Fairy Land: Pictures from Old World. D. Appleton, 1869.
Allingham, William. In Fairyland. London: Longmans, 1870.
(This volume is a first edition copy of one of Doyle's best known fairy works. The book is folio size, approximately eleven inches by fifteen inches, and has a green cover with the title, cover illustrations and trim embossed in gold. The illustrations are all in color and are interspersed with the text of Allingham's poem, one page of verse followed by one page of illustrations.)
Carl, Ludwig Jacob and Wilhelm Carl Grimm. The Fairy Tale Ring: A New Collection of Popular Tales. J. Murray, 1846.
De La Mare, Walter. Songs of Childhood. London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1916.
Dickens, C. Christmas Books. sp.l.; Chapman and Hall, 1869.
Dickens, C. The Cricket on the Hearth. London ; Bradbury and Evan, 1846.
Dickens, Charles. The Cricket on the Hearth. London: George Rutledge & Sons, Limited and New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., n.d. (This volume is a pocket size book. Doyle is one of several illustrators represented in the work.)
Doyle, Richard. Comic Histories with Tommy and the Lion. sp.l.; Pall Mall Gazette, 1885.
Doyle, Richard. Dick Doyle's Journal: A Journal Kept by Richard Doyle in the Year 1840. sp.l.; Smith and Elder, 1885.
Doyle, Richard. Jack and the Giant Killer. London ; Erye and Spottiswoode, 1842.
The Enchanted Crow and Other Famous Fairy Tales. sp.l.; Dean and Son, 1871.
Feast of the Dwarfs, and Other Famous Fairy Tales. sp.l.; Dean and Son, 1871.
Hughes, Thomas. The Scouring of the White Horse. Cambridge and London: Macmillan & Co., 1859.
Juvenile Calendarand Zodiac Flowers. sp.l.; Low, 1855.
Lang, Andrew. The Princess Nobody: A Fairy Tale Land. sp.l. ; Longmans, 1884.
Lemon, Mark. The Enchanted Doll. sp.l.; Bradbury and Evans, 1850.
Lemon, Mark. Fairy Tales. sp.l. ; Bradbury and Evans, 1868.
Oliphant, Laurence. Piccadilly. sp.l.; Blackwoods, 1870.
Ruskin, John. The King of the Golden River. Ann Arbor: University Microfilms, Inc., 1966. (A Legacy Library Facsimile of the 1851 edition as published by Smith, Elder of London.)
Ruskin, John. The King of the Golden River or the Black Brothers. London: Smith and Elder & Co., 1853.
Snow White and Rosy-Red with Other Famous Tales. sp.l.; Dean and Son, 1871.
The Story of Jack and the Giants. sp.l.; Cundall and Addey, 1851.
Toby, M.P. The Queen and Mr. Punch. sp.l.; Bradbury, Agnew, 1897.
Wyndham, P.C.B Madline. The Sad Story of a Pig and a Little Girl. sp.l.; Cumberland, 1876.
This resource guide represents the combined work of Michelle Frisque and Elizabeth T. Mahoney. |
Elizabeth Nesbitt Room |
This resource guide represents the combined work of Michelle Frisque and Elizabeth T. Mahoney.
| Elizabeth Nesbitt Room | Illustrators Page|