Anna Filippova, September 16, 2014

On a summer day in 1862 Charles Dodgson, a professor of mathematics in Oxford University was rowing his colleague’s daughters across the river. In order to amuse the girls, he made up a story about a girl called Alice, and we all know what happened after that. Let’s focus on illustrations. For 150 years since its first edition, the adventures of Alice have become not only one of the main books for children, but an obsession for painters. Hundreds of artists have created their own interpretations of the crazy universe of Lewis Carroll.

Illustrations by Lewis Carroll

And the author himself was the first illustrator. He handwrote his story and made sketches in the margins. It’s interesting that in his pictures Alice looked like Mary Badcock, a long-haired blonde, who was a daughter of his another friend. However, many other artists later painted Alice as a dark-haired girl like Alice Liddell. The exact hair color of Carroll’s Alice isn’t known as all his pictures were monochrome.


The original illustrations were never published. They were in the manuscript which Carroll presented Alice Liddell with. Now you can see the pictures online, the original is kept in the British Library.


John Tenniel illustrations

The first edition of the book was published in 1865 and illustrated by Sir John Tenniel, an English caricaturist. The story went unheeded, but the critics appreciated  Tenniel’s pictures, on which he worked together with Carroll. They discussed every picture, and the writer’s point of view always prevailed. But the artist refused to draw Alice from Mary, and Tenniel’s Alice, that later became a standard, was another girl. According to one legend, the appearance of the Duchess John drew from Metsys’ Margarethe Maultasch, who was thought to be the ugliest woman of Medieval times.


Hatter was another real person, who was depicted by the artist. His prototype was Theophilius Carter a famous mad man from Oxford, who sold furniture.


Arthur Ratham illustrations

Tenniel’s illustrations remained the only ones for a long period of time. But in 1907 the term of the serial right expired and about ten artists started drawing their versions of Alice on demand of several publishing houses. And four editions were published in October. The most popular one was illustrated by Arthur Rackham. His pictures were first printed in color.


Leonard Weisgard illustrations

Leonard Weisgard was another famous artist who made illustrations for “Alice”. He started with the pictures for the magazines “Good Housekeeping”, “The New Yorker” and “Harper’s Bazaar”, then he became a famous writer of books for children (and an illustrator). He drew in gouache, pastel, ink and even chalk, using collage and stencil techniques. His bright graphics influenced the way other painters dared to draw illustrations without recalling to the canon.


Salvador Dali illustrations

The series of Salvador Dali’s lithoprints made in late 60s were the most expensive illustrations for the book. Dali painted 13 gouaches for a present edition of “Alice”.


Tove Jansson illustrations

Tove Jansson was another legend who drew pictures for the book. Some years before “Mummy Trolls” she made some illustrations for the Swedish editions of Carroll.


Ralf Steadman illustrations

Ralf Steadman was a British artist and cartoonist who was famous for his pictures for “Alice” and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”, both psychedelic books. It’s impossible to name all the artists who made illustrations for the book. Another book, “Illustrating Alice”, was published in 2013 and it has a great number of illustrations in it.


The book 'Illustrating Alice'


Yayoi Kusama is another artist whose illustrations are very interesting:


Lisbeth Zwerger has also made a great series of pictures:


The Nursery Alice is a special short edition of the book, illustrated by the author’s old friend Gertrude Tompson.


John Vernon Lord has drawn pictures just for the “Through the Looking-glass” part, but we can’t help sharing them:


The Australian “Alice” has plenty of interesting details like a white kangaroo instead of a rabbit: 


And this is one of the most traditional, Disney-like Alice by Libico Maraja:


Gennady Kalinovsky is the major of the illustrators of the book in Russia. In 1971 he made more than 70 monochrome illustrations for the edition, and later he made some colorful pictures as well:


But all the Soviet children remember Alice as a dark-haired pug-nosed girl with the bangs, thanks to Efrem Pruzhansky, the author of the Soviet cartoon “Alice in Wonderland”:


Here are more various illustrations made by different artists in different periods: