Sailing Ships in Whitby Harbour by Arthur Rackham (1867 –1939)

Sailing Ships in Whitby Harbour by Arthur Rackham (1867 –1939)

Arthur Rackham was one of the leading artists and book illustrators in a time that is described as the Golden Age of British Book Illustration.

Born in London, Arthur Rackham was one of 12 children. He was working as a clerk at the Westminster Fire Office when he began studying art, part time, at the Lambeth School of Art.

In his twenties he worked as a reporter and illustrator, and his first book illustrations were published in 1893. From 1894 Book Illustration became his main career, whilst he also continued to contribute to periodicals.

In 1904 Arthur Rackham married his neighbour Edyth Starkie, an established Irish portrait painter and sculptor, and together they had one daughter, Barbara, in 1908.

Rackham created beautiful pen and ink drawings, often combined with watercolour.  He dominated the art of book illustration at the start of the Twentieth Century, and is best known for his illustrations of fantasy and fairy stories, including the Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm.  These high quality, beautiful books were highly regarded and often given as Christmas gifts.

Arthur Rackham also exhibited and won awards for his artworks, in Britain and Europe.  His work is often described as a fusion of a northern European ‘Nordic’ style strongly influenced by the Japanese woodblock tradition of the early 19th century.

This beautiful, subtly coloured drawing of Whitby is typical of his drawing style.

If you have any further information, stories or anecdotes about the artist, or any of the members of the Staithes Art Group, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us by email: