The Artist Warwick Goble

Although not as well-known as his contemporaries Arthur Rackham and Edmund Dulac, Warwick Goble is one of the more prominent illustrators of the “Golden Age of Illustration” that spanned the first quarter of the 20th century. Born in 1862, Goble’s work would often be associated with the Orientalism art movement and he was often sought to illustrate works with Asian themes.

Born and trained in London, Goble studied at both the City of London School and the Westminster School of Art. He came late to the field of illustration (at the age of thirty-four) and spent the early part of his career exhibiting his art at places like the Royal Academy. However, new developments achieved by printers would allow watercolor works from artists like Goble to be published with immense detail and true coloration. Goble began illustrating in 1896, but he did not achieve notoriety until the third book he illustrated in 1898, War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells.

Although Goble would illustrate a handful of books over the next several years, he found more work after 1909 as the demand for colored book plates increased. Like Dulac, Goble was associated with the Orientalism art movement. Inspired by Oriental motifs and settings, Goble was often commissioned to work on subjects that were Oriental in nature. Goble was highly influenced by certain Japanese artistic techniques that he tried to reproduce in his art.

In 1909 Goble produced book plates for The Water Babies, a project of thirty-two book plates, which would earn the artist lasting praise. Other important Goble book plates are from works such as Green Willow and Other Japanese Fairy Tales (1910), Stories from Pentamerone (1911), Folk Tales of Bengal (1912), The Complete Poetical Works of Geoffrey Chaucer (1912), and Indian Myth and Legend (1913). Goble also provided illustrations for Treasure Island and Kidnapped in the 1920s. Goble’s career also led him to illustrate for magazines such as Pearson’s.

Goble died in 1943. He is remembered for many classic illustrations that demonstrate his ingenious use of color and watercolor techniques. His enchanted scenes of fairies and majestic scenes of the Orient are among his best-loved works. Illustrations like The Six Swans from his Fairy Book (1913) demonstrate his love of rich colors like blue and magenta to create romantic images that are still remembered today. World mythology also was an important part of Goble’s subject matter and his other-worldly scenes of water goddesses and mythological creatures would cement the author’s fame.