DE BOSSCHERE, JEAN. 1878-1953.
"The City Curious," mixed media, 347 x 286, unsigned, illustration for The City Curious, (London: Heinemann, 1920, facing p 16).
The Belgian Symbolist artist and writer Jean de Bosschère was one of the great color-plate artists of the early 20th century and worthy of place beside Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac and Kay Nielsen. The Little Review stated in 1920, "M. de Bosschère is certainly the most accomplished artist engaged in illustrating books, and his special sense of the decorative quality of black and white and his purity of line are a great pleasure." The artist fled to England when World War I broke out in Belgium. He developed in London his own distinctive style of fantasy illustration. His fascination with the occult is apparent in his whimsical, child-like, often grotesque designs for his most important children's book, The City Curious, that he both wrote and illustrated. "Among illustrated books it probably stands alone," said The Bookman, "for it is rare that a poet of so much imagination meets in the same man with an illustrator of such skill and power of invention." His pictures suggest a cross between Hieronymus Bosch and Harry Clarke. Persian miniatures too influenced his distinctive style. But the artist was never pleased with the reproduction of his work, especially his watercolors; and the originals are indeed far more vibrant than their printed versions.