Original William M. Timlin Watercolor Drawing for "The Ship That Sailed to Mars"
TIMLIN, William M. "The Finished Palace of the Princess." [N.p.: n.d., ca. 1923]. Original pen, ink, and watercolor drawing for The Ship That Sailed to Mars. Signed at lower left. Image size: 8 3/4 x 10 3/4 inches; 248 x 273 mm. Matted, framed, and glazed. Together with the original leaf of accompanying calligraphic text. Image size: 7 5/8 x 11 1/4 inches; 195 x 285 mm. Also matted, framed, and glazed.
Depicts a room in the Palace of the Princess with a large arched French window, with curtains hung on either side of the door. The Princess, in a golden gown, is standing in the middle, moving a rug into position. At right are three Fairies, one holding a ladder on which a second Fairy is standing, hanging a gem-hung lamps. The third Fairy is standing by a small table at far right making the final adjustments to the drapes.
The text of the calligraphic leaf in black with initial letters and decorations in blue. "That night for a space, every Fairy laboured, as only Fairies can, on the unfinished Palace of the Princess, and it was soon complete. Its marble terraces were builded, and its many towers capped, and its crystal-floored halls were lit with gem-hung lamps. And all brought gifts enough to fill many palaces,—hangings of many silks, and gold and jewelled things. One room, the Princess' own, had in it nothing but silver, sapphire, and moonstone, draped with luminous spider silk. Then the Prince and Princess were married, and the bells rang out afresh, and on the scene shone the Double Moons the Old Man had so longed to see. All the evening, in the midst of all the merriment, the Princess held the Old Man's hand in gratitude that could find no words, and it seemed to him that here was a Land where a man might live gladly, and for ever."
William Timlin (1893-1943), "born in Ashington, Northumberland, Timlin was educated in England but emigrated to South Africa before 1915 and studied art there. He did illustrations in pen and ink and watercolour, and exhibited regularly in South Africa, where he practised as an architect. He wrote stories, composed music, illustrated periodicals, produced watercolour fantasies, painted in oil, and produced etchings. His book, The Ship That Sailed to Mars, was published in 1923 and the film rights were purchased in the US, where Timlin was popular during his lifetime. It has been asserted that the illustrations to this book put him in the top ten of fantasy illustrators with Rackham, Dulac, Goble and Nielsen. He died in Kimberley, South Africa" (Alan Horne, The Dictionary of 20th Century British Book Illustrators).
"The most original and beautiful children's book of the 1920s was William M. Timlin's masterpiece The Ship That Sailed to Mars: A Fantasy. Excelling the production values previously lavished on Willy Pogany and Harry Clarke, George Harrap published this huge and magnificent volume in November 1923, finely bound in quarter vellum richly decorated in gilt. ‘Told and Pictured by William M. Timlin', the book contained 48 superb colour plates by the artist, alternated throughout with 48 leaves adorned with his fine calligraphic and poetic text. These pieces of art were all mounted by hand on grey matte paper, reminiscent of Harrap's best pre-war editions de luxe, notably Pogany's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Timlin's fantasy is a magical combination of science fiction and fairyland. His watercolours equal the best work of Arthur Rackham and W. Heath Robinson, seen to great effect in ‘The Raising of the Tower', ‘The Celebration', ‘The Palace Gardens', ‘The Seven Sisters' (living in compact little moons, each complete with doors, windows and chimneys), ‘The Jeweller's Shop' (‘An elf would run out from some low-browed jeweller's shop and press a priceless ruby into his hand'), and ‘The Temple' (‘Myriad-pinnacled, with daring spans of flying buttress and airy bridge, a place of supreme happiness'). A total of only 2,000 copies of the book were produced in Britain, of which 250 were distributed in America by Stokes of New York (in 1924)…The film rights to the book were sold in America, but the movie, which was to be called Get Off the Earth, was never completed…His later series of paintings, intended as plates for a book to be entitled The Building of a Fairy City, were never published in that form, but some (including the magical ‘Fantasy and Triumphal Arch') have been issued as postcards in South Africa" (Richard Dalby, The Golden Age of Children's Book Illustration, p. 102).
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