Robert Stewart Sherriffs

Look Here: RUBAIYAT OF OMAR KHAYYAM, illus. by Robert Stewart Sherriffs (post 1 of 3)

Scottish artist Robert Stewart Sherriffs (13 February 1906 – 26 December 1960) was perhaps best known in his day for the boldly stylized caricatures of contemporary film and theatre stars that he drew for various British periodicals including The Sketch, the BBC’s Radio Times, and Punch; however, beginning in 1930 with his elaborate, decadent line drawings for an edition of Christopher Marlowe’s The Life and Death of Tamurlaine the Great, Sherriffs also produced a substantial — and here in the twenty-first century, for the most part, unjustly forgotten — body of work in the field of book illustration. More than a decade and a half into that second career, in the late 1940s, Sherriffs was commissioned to create twelve illustrations for the Khorasan Edition of Edward FitzGerald’s celebrated English-verse translation of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. I don’t own a first edition of the Khorasan Rubaiyat, which was published in 1947, but in the 1967 reprint edition of the book, the publisher, Collins, informs readers that Sherriffs’ illustrations “are printed in six colours by the offset process on Mellotex offset cartridge” paper, and although one might not understand the jargon, one can’t argue with the result, which is a lovely advertisement for both the illustrator’s and the printer’s art.

Sherriffs’ illustrations were scanned for display here at RCN from a used copy of the Khorasan Rubaiyat that I bought from a local thrift shop; I intend to post the JPEGs in three instalments, of which this is the first…

[CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE]


NAVIGATION:

Look Here: RUBAIYAT OF OMAR KHAYYAM, illus. by Robert Stewart Sherriffs (post 1 of 3)
Look Here: RUBAIYAT OF OMAR KHAYYAM, illus. by Robert Stewart Sherriffs (post 2 of 3)
Look Here: RUBAIYAT OF OMAR KHAYYAM, illus. by Robert Stewart Sherriffs (post 3 of 3)


BONUS LINKS:

The British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent > Biography: Robert Stewart Sherriffs

National Portrait Gallery > Cartoons by Robert Stewart Sherriffs, 1920s-1930s


BONUS IMAGES:

I didn’t take the following pictures. I simply copied them from an ebay auction to give you an idea of what Sherriffs’ first job as a book illustrator looked like; although the influence of Aubrey Beardsley and Harry Clarke is fairly obvious, it was a terrific debut:

[CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE]

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