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Friday’s library snapshot … Randolph Caldecott

November 23, 2012

Randolph Caldecott’s (1846–1886) name is often linked with Walter Crane and Kate Greenaway, a little group of illustrators who began a new era of picture books for children in the 1870s. However, Caldecott’s immortal pictures are quite different from the more static, decorative work of Crane and Greenaway.  He was able to sketch closely observed scenes of everyday happenings of animals and people ‘full of the joy of living’  with little detail and subtle palette of colours.

Skills learned as boy drawing animals from models he had formed himself from clay.  Later while working as a bank clerk he spent all his spare time wandering and drawing in the countryside.


In 1867 he studied art in Manchester School of Art for five years.  After several contributions to the London Society magazine, his  illustrations were soon appearing in Picture Books.
A decade after this he began a fruitful association with Edmund Evans (1826-1905) the printer and engraver on a series of shilling toy-books.  The first printing was 10.000 copies which sold out very quickly.  Caldecott’s success was assured; with his name the Lord of Nursery he gained international acclaim and the respect of other artists such as Van Gogh, Gauguin and Beatrix Potter.
He sailed to Florida in 1885, hoping the the climate would revive his poor health.  Sadly he died early in the following year.  

Caldecott’s collection of pictures and songs 1896

Three jovial huntsmen

The Queen of  Hearts

 Pictures from R Caldecott’s collection of Pictures & Songs.

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