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This powerful illustration from Rackham was inspired by the tale of the ‘Twelfth Labor of Hercules’ within the “Library” of Apollodorus.
As recorded in the translation provided by Sir James G Frazer, the tale is described thus:
A twelfth labor imposed on Hercules was to bring Cerberus from Hades. Now this Cerberus had three heads of dogs, the tail of a dragon, and on his back the heads of all sorts of snakes. When Hercules was about to depart to fetch him, he went to Eumolpus at Eleusis, wishing to be initiated. However it was not then lawful for foreigners to be initiated: since he proposed to be initiated as the adoptive son of Pylius. But not being able to see the mysteries because he had not been cleansed of the slaughter of the centaurs, he was cleansed by Eumolpus and then initiated. And having come to Taenarum in Laconia, where is the mouth of the descent to Hades, he descended through it. But when the souls saw him, the fled, save Meleager and the Gorgon Medusa. And Hercules drew his sword against the Gorgon, as if she were alive, but her learned from Hermes that she was an empty phantom. And being come near to the gates of Hades he found Theseus and Pirithous, him who wooed Persephone in wedlock and was therefore bound fast. And when they beheld Hercules, they stretched out their hands as if they should be raised from the dead by his might. And Theseus, indeed, he took by the hand and raised up, but when he would have brought up Pirithous, the earth quaked and he let go. And he rolled away also the stone of Ascalaphus. And wishing to provide the souls with blood, he slaughtered one of the kine of Hades. But Menoetes, son of Ceuthonymus, who tended the kine, challenged Hercules to wrestle, and being seized round the middle, had his ribs broke; howbeit, he was let off at the request of Persephone. When Hercules asked Pluto for Cerberus, Pluto ordered him to take the animal provided he mastered him without the use of the weapons which he carried. Hercules found him at the gates of Acheron, and cased in his cuirass and covered by the lion’s skin, he flung his arms round the head of the brute, and though the dragon in its tail bit him, he never relaxed his grip and pressure till it yielded. So he carried it off and ascended through Troezen. But Demeter turned Ascalaphus into a short-eared owl, and Hercules, after showing Cerberus to Eurystheus, carried him back to Hades.
Below, we show detail of Hercules from this magnificent illustration by Arthur Rackham.
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Published by Hodder & Stoughton (London) in 1906, Arthur Rackham’s illustrated “Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens” was a ‘tour de force’.
For this First Edition, Rackham turns his prodigious skill towards illustrating a portion of Barrie’s play, “The Little White Bird”. It tells the story of Peter Pan - the eternal child living in Neverland - who often visits London to listen to bedtime stories told by Mrs Mary Darling to her children (one of whom is Wendy). After Wendy helps Peter become re-attached to his shadow, he takes her to Neverland to be mother to his gang of Lost Boys (the children lost in Kensington Gardens).
Many adventures - including the dangerous flight to Neverland and confrontations with Captain Hook - follow through chapters entitled: ”The Grand Tour of the Gardens”; “Peter Pan”; “The Thrush’s Nest”; “Lock-Out Time”; “The Little House”; and “Peter’s Goat”.
Immediately below, we show the cover artwork from a design by Arthur Rackham for “Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens” (1906).
A total of 50 colour illustrations by Arthur Rackham were published in the 1906 First Edition, with further monotone images (including ‘Peter Pan’s Map of Kensington Gardens’). Immediately below, we show the illustration known as ‘Peter Pan’s Map of Kensington Gardens’.
Rackham’s illustrations for “Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens” (1906) included seminal examples of his classic illustrations depicting scenes from fairyland.
Immediately below, we show one such image - it being associated with the following text: “There is almost nothing that has such a keen sense of fun as a fallen leaf”.
Below, we show two other images from ”Peter Pan in Kenginston Gardens” (1906). The first is associated with the following text: “The fairies have their tiffs with the birds”.
The second is associated with the following text: “They all tickled him on the shoulder”.