[London]: , 1918. Item #03833
"Jack the Giant Killer"
RACKHAM, Arthur, artist. "The giant Cormoran was the terror of all the country-side" [London, 1918].
Original pen-and-ink and watercolor drawing, signed "Arthur Rackham" on lower left-hand corner, for the color plate facing page 76, in the Rackham-illustrated edition of English Fairy Tales. London: Macmillan & Co., Ltd., 1918.
Image size: 10 x 7 5/8 inches: 254 x 194 mm. (board size: 11 1/4 x 7 15/16 inches: 286 x 202 mm.). Matted, framed and glazed. Written on the back of the watercolor in black ink, in Arthur Rackham's hand "A. Rackham/English Fairy Tales./No. 1 (Jack the Giant Killer)".
"In those days, the Mount of St. Michael in Cornwall was the fastness of a hugeous giant whose name was Cormoran. He was full eighteen feet in height, some three yards about the middle, of a grim face, and was the terror of all the country-side. He lived in a cave amidst the rocky Mount, and when he desired victuals he would wade across the tides to the mainland and furnish himself forth with all that came in his way. The poor folk and the rich folk alike ran out of their houses and hid themselves when they heard the swish-swash of his big feet in the water; for if he saw them, he would think nothing of broiling half-a-dozen or so of them for breakfast. As it was, he seized their cattle by the score, carrying off half-a-dozen fat oxen on his back at a time, and hanging sheep and pigs to his waistbelt like bunches of dip-candles." (Jack the Giant Killer).
In this stupendous watercolor, Cormoran is scouting for victims in the middle of a village. He has at least two oxen slung over his shoulder and four pigs tied to his waistband. His face is exactly what a giant's face should look like - really ugly with crossed-eyes and an underbite like a bulldog. In the background, villagers are scurrying away over the fields and low stone walls outside the village and in the foreground we see a small dog running towards two villagers and their child who are hiding the other side of a pigsty.
Another woman villager is ducking out of Cormoran's way and in the house to his right is a little boy peeping out of an upstairs window. The feeling of fear is overwhelming in this incredible watercolor - Rackham manages to depict the sheer terror of these poor people and the feeling of total domination that Cormoran has over them which is clearly established in the stance and demeanor of the giant.
Provenance: Sessler's Bookshop, Philadelphia with their typed description on back of frame.