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John Leech's Pictures of Life and Character   By: (1811-1863)

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John Leech's Pictures of Life and Character is a captivating collection of illustrations that wonderfully depict the intricacies of life in Victorian England. Authored by the talented William Makepeace Thackeray, this book offers readers a unique glimpse into the everyday experiences of people from various backgrounds.

Thackeray's skillful storytelling comes to life through the detailed and expressive drawings of John Leech. Each illustration tells its own story, capturing the essence of characters in a way that words alone cannot. Through these pictures, Thackeray effortlessly conveys the humor, satire, and social commentary that were so characteristic of his writing.

The book covers a wide range of subjects, providing a comprehensive view of society at the time. From high society parties and literary gatherings to street scenes and family life, no aspect of Victorian society is left unexplored. Thackeray's keen observations are reflected in each picture, highlighting the stark differences between social classes and shedding light on the struggles faced by individuals from all walks of life.

One of the book's greatest strengths is its ability to evoke a range of emotions in its readers. Leech's artistry beautifully captures moments of joy, sorrow, love, and even mischief. Whether it is a poignant family scene or a comical situation, the illustrations in this book are bound to elicit a response from anyone who flips through its pages.

Furthermore, Thackeray's accompanying text adds depth and context to the visual narratives. His witty and insightful commentary makes for an enjoyable read, providing additional layers of meaning to the already engaging illustrations. Readers will find themselves captivated by his flair for storytelling, as he weaves humorous anecdotes and astute observations seamlessly throughout the book.

While John Leech's Pictures of Life and Character is undoubtedly a gem for art enthusiasts, it also offers valuable insight into the social fabric of Victorian society. Thackeray's masterful ability to combine his writing with Leech's illustrations ensures that readers are not only entertained but also enlightened on the complexities of the era.

In conclusion, John Leech's Pictures of Life and Character is an endearing collaboration between Thackeray and Leech, offering readers an intimate and engaging experience. This book is a must-read for those interested in Victorian society and art, and Thackeray's skillful storytelling combined with Leech's expressive drawings make it a true delight to behold.

First Page:


By William Makepeace Thackeray

Reprinted from the Quarterly Review, No. 191, Dec. 1854, by permission of Mr. John Murray.

We, who can recall the consulship of Plancus, and quite respectable, old fogyfied times, remember amongst other amusements which we had as children the pictures at which we were permitted to look. There was Boydell's Shakspeare, black and ghastly gallery of murky Opies, glum Northcotes, straddling Fuselis! there were Lear, Oberon, Hamlet, with starting muscles, rolling eyeballs, and long pointing quivering fingers; there was little Prince Arthur (Northcote) crying, in white satin, and bidding good Hubert not put out his eyes; there was Hubert crying; there was little Rutland being run through the poor little body by bloody Clifford; there was Cardinal Beaufort (Reynolds) gnashing his teeth, and grinning and howling demoniacally on his death bed (a picture frightful to the present day); there was Lady Hamilton (Romney) waving a torch, and dancing before a black background, a melancholy museum indeed. Smirke's delightful "Seven Ages" only fitfully relieved its general gloom. We did not like to inspect it unless the elders were present, and plenty of lights and company were in the room.

Cheerful relatives used to treat us to Miss Linwood's... Continue reading book >>

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