Online Feature

Walter Crane, Academician of the Nursery

Walter Crane
was a 19th-century British artist, designer, and political activist who worked with a wide array of media.  He never considered illustration a central part of his career, preferring painting and design instead, though it is what he is best known for today.  In 1863, the wood engraver and printer Edmund Evans commissioned Crane to create a set of colour illustrations for children’s books. Through high-volume printing, Evans proposed to produce books that were both beautiful and affordable. Crane’s bold lines lent themselves well to the colour printing techniques of the time and his book designs became immensely popular.  He was nicknamed the ‘Academician of the Nursery.’

The illustrations on display here come from two shilling quarto books, printed between 1874 and 1876.  These larger and more expensive versions of earlier sixpenny toy books allowed Crane increased pictorial space as the text and images were printed on separate pages and each book contained one lavish double-page image.