Art Styles in 19th century - Art Map

 


 

Mahlon Blaine

1894 - 1969
 

 

Mahlon Blaine was a twentieth century American artist who is remembered chiefly today for his brilliant illustrations to many books, both children's and adult. His mastery of line was, and remains, unique and masterful. Likened, rightfully, to Aubrey Beardsley, Blaine was another original mind, and his interest in portraying the animal nature of humanity lost him a wider audience.

The only monograph on the artist so far published is The Art of Mahlon Blaine (Peregrine Books, 1982), and this wonderful book, which includes a deep insight into the artist by his colleague Gershon Legman, contains a good cross-section of Blaine's colour and b-&-w art and an excellent bibliography of Blaine books compiled by Roland Trenary.

Many other books illustrated by Blaine turn up commonly in secondhand bookshops: his illustrated versions of Voltaire's Candide and Sterne's A Sentimental Journey are frequently encountered. These books are good examples of his work, but the enthusiast is advised to pursue the many other Blaine-illustrated books, especially the weird-fantastic fiction titles so perfectly-suited to his work.

 

Blaine's early life is cloaked in misdirection and deliberate misinformation. The first published biographical article about him in 1929 (or was it 1927?) is total fabrication. The gullible interviewer, Anice Peg Cooper, swallowed the blarney whole and reported it as fact. Likewise this 1927 fabrication below. It's from the rear of the dust jacket of Hugh Clifford's The Further Side of Silence and appeared below the illustration at left:

"Mahlon Blaine has illustrated these Malayan dramas with the magic of his own experience. A New England Quaker descended from staunch old New Bedford Whalers, Mahlon Blaine went to sea at fifteen and sailed before the mast in one of the last of the old wind-jammers. Then under steam he commuted from the Pacific Coast to the Atlantic, to the Mediterranean, to the Arctic to all of Kipling's Seven seas where a merchantman seeks cargo. It is such eastern ports as Macao, Port Said, Hongkong, Pearl Harbor, that have given him his gallery of wicked, twisted Oriental faces and the museums of the world that have been his art schools. He has sailed up the Congo to the make a collection of African masks, rescued fellow countrymen from jails in Indo-China, and nosed into many a Malay river for strange cargo and shipped many a Malay crew. He thinks that Sir Hugh Clifford has an uncanny knowledge of native psychology and can substantiate many of the stories by his own experiences."

 
 


"Nova Venus"

 
 
 



 



 



 



 



 



 



 



 



 



 



 



 



 



 



 

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