Maclise as a Book Illustrator

The late 1830s and early 1840s were extremely busy years for Maclise as an illustrator of books, many of them by Irish authors like S.C. Hall, Rev. Francis Mahony and Thomas Moore. His first illustrations had been for Thomas Crofton Croker's Fairy Legends in 1826, wild and fantastical illustrations that were to become a hallmark of Maclise's style. Through the early 1830s, Maclise collaborated with his fellow Corkman, Francis Mahony ('Father Prout') in a series of sarcastic, ironic and amusing portraits of Irish life; wood engravings that depended for their energy and wit on the literary style and political imagination of Mahony.

For Mahony's brilliant book of essays, Reliques of Father Prout, Maclise provided illustrations of Sir Walter Scott kissing the Blarney Stone, young Fr Prout escaping from the Cork Foundling Hospital, a funeral procession of an Irish farmer, and many other tendentious and provocative subjects. Maclise also drew a famous cartoon of the contributors to Fraser's Magazine and this became a much discussed and republished image.

But there were many other illustrated books, including S.C. Hall's The Book of Gems (1836), Anna Maria Hall's Sketches of Irish Character (1842), Thomas Moore's lavish Irish Melodies (1845), and Lord Tennyson's Poems (1857).

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