Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Pauline Baynes

Pauline Baynes passed away at her home in Surrey on August the third, just one month shy of her 86th year. She was the original illustrator of all the Narnia books, of Farmer Giles of Ham and Smith of Wootton Major and The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Bilbo's Last Song, of maps of Middle-Earth, and of many other books.
I first saw her drawings when I bought The Tolkien Reader in the mid-70's. Her style influenced me deeply, especially my dragons, as first I traced and re-traced her picture of Chrysophylax Dives, and then took to free-handing my own.
It was with some surprise and pleasure that I found out that she was still alive and producing in the late 90's; I had felt that surely anything so good must belong in the Long Gone Times. The above picture of her, which might be described as her official portrait, is from when she was producing the Narnia Chronicles illustrations back in the Fifties. A much more recent photo featured in Brian Sibley's tribute to this great lady shows she had weathered into one of those amazing, fabulous creatures that only professional British women seem to become.
A melancholy fact that has tinged my whole day. Some mourning to mark her passing; a truly creative person who has subtly touched millions with her art, whose death is hardly a blip on the worldly radar. But we know, and salute her.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

the weird mixture of realizing she was alive and then that she had passed---too much...she was certainly great; an illustrator purely for books, with no eye towards animation or T shirts...an old fashioned bit of magic that has passed with her...