Ask Morgana 124: Willy Pogany

Willy Pogany (1882-1955) is probably best known for his illustrations of children’s books. His 1929 illustrations for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland have a ‘modern’ Alice with bobbed hair, low waistline, short skirt, and mary-janes, but he illustrated many other books of fairy tales, myths, and legends. He could turn his hand to The Arabian Nights, to Asgard, to Olympus, to the Bible, or to Faerie. Famously, he illustrated in simple, art nouveau ink lines, an edition or Pierre Louÿs’ faux-Hellenic collection of erotic poems Bilitis. His style developed from early art nouveau, through Rackhamesque extravagance, to the gentle precision of his artistic instruction books, to the almost pin-up sauciness of ‘Gone with the Wind’ (5 below). You can see some of this development in the chosen images. (2) is, I believe, from his illustrations for The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, and is typical of the depictions of ecstasy that he made. (3) and (4) are from his drawing books, and I find a lot of sensuality lurking behind their coyness.

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Images reproduced under ‘fair use’ provisions.

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