Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Picture of Dorian Gray

An inscribed first edition
As the name suggests, Oscar Wilde's A Picture of Dorian Gray is, in large part, about a picture. But, the first two publications of the story were not illustrated. That is not too surprising. Any self-respecting illustrator would have to shy away from depicting the painting Wilde describes as it takes on Dorian Gray's many sins through life.

The first printing of the story
We have many editions of the book, but only one where the illustrator tried to capture the painting at the end of Gray's life. For those who have read the book, the illustration is entirely unsatisfying. It can't hold a candle to the horrors we imagine.

Lucille Corcos's 1957 illustration for the Limited Editions Club
More successful are the illustrators who dabbled around the edges of the story to capture the mood without forcing the reader to face a concrete manifestation of the supernatural painting.
Henry Keen's illustration for 1925 The Bodley Head edition
J. E. Laboureur's Paris edition from 1928
To see the Pictures, ask for: Val 826 W64 U51; Val 826 W64 U512; Presses L629wip; Illus K25w; and Illus L114xw

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