Harry Clarke’s Haunting 1919 Illustrations for Edgar Allan Poe’s Stories
Artful Edwardian-era erotica at the intersection of the whimsical and the macabre.
By Maria Popova
Somewhere between Henry Holiday’s weird paintings for Lewis Carroll and Edward Gorey’s delightfully grim alphabet fall Harry Clarke’s hauntingly beautiful and beautifully haunting 1919 illustrations for Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination — a collection of 29 of Poe’s tales of the magical and the macabre.
So lavish was the artwork that a copy of the “deluxe” Clarke-illustrated edition went for 5 guineas in 1919, or about $300 in today’s money. The book, an epic volume of 480 pages, was eventually reprinted by Calla Editions in 2008, and is now available for the much more reasonable $27, or free with a trip to your local public library.
Eerie and erotic, Clarke’s illustrations bring his Edwardian-era aesthetic and early Art Nouveau influences to the post-Victorian liberated fascination with sensuality.
See more illustrations at the always-wonderful 50 Watts, who took care to scan the images above.
Clarke’s style brings to mind a beautiful German short film I recently shared, titled The Boundaries of Life and Death and inspired by Poe:
Published May 7, 2012