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Walter Crane’s Illustrational Style

Walter Crane’s unique illustration style drew on many different sources. The sumptuous interiors bear the mark of a designer: the finely detailed wallpaper, spindly-legged furniture, and geometric tiles reveal Crane’s taste.  His carefully rendered perspectives demonstrate a keen sense of architectural space. The illustrations are also filled with accessories associated with the Aesthetic Movement, including fans, blue and white china, and peacock feathers.   His flat colour planes and confident use of bold black lines can be traced to a set of Japanese prints he owned. 

The sharp lines and limited colour palette required by wood engraving did not hinder Crane’s use of subtle detail to reveal emotion.  Beauty’s twisted pose and carefully rendered eyes and mouth hint at her discomfort as she sits on the sofa with the Beast. Other clever inclusions such as the leopard skin rug, animal head motifs, and frieze of Orpheus with wild animals on the harpsichord refer to ‘the tamed beast’ and show Crane’s rigorous attention to detail.