Barry Windsor-Smith · Connections · Illustration Art · Look Here

Connections: Gustave Doré and Barry Windsor-Smith



In The Studio (Dragon’s Dream, 1979), on pages 103 and 104, Barry Windsor-Smith provides a brief account of the genesis of Whithering:

“In the spring of 1975 I was working on a pen and ink drawing of trees, just trees. It was inspired, in part, by a wonderful painting of old Hampstead Heath by John Constable. At that time I didn’t think my audience was ready for — or let’s say interested in — a new work by me that was ‘just trees.’ Constable himself had a witticism about painting some of his pictures with ‘eye salve.’ What he meant was that he would make a picture as commercial as possible if he needed to sell it. As I wanted the fantasy market to see my tree drawing, I took a tip from Constable and applied a little ‘fantastic eye balm’: right in the middle of the picture I drew a shrouded figure of Death — a skull-headed man — and off in the distance a dark, foreboding mansion. This made the trees seemingly incidental. I called it Whithering (p. 110)… a deliberate non sequitur.” […]

“One night I got a frenzied call from an associate in London. He’d just shown a reproduction of the picture to a much respected fellow artist whom I’d never met, and whom my associate had only just met. Over the crackling transatlantic line I heard him say, ‘Hey! Guess what!… I just showed Whithering to so-and-so and guess what he said, — ‘Ahh, Constable; those trees. Barry just stuck that dead bloke in there so he could get away with drawing trees, didn’t he’?… He knew! There were a few cackles of laughter and then he hung up; that was the end of the call. I was suffering from insomnia at the time, I recall I slept that night and glowed the next day.”

Does Windsor-Smith’s reminiscence rule out the influence of Doré’s composition on Whithering? I don’t think so, but if you check out the comments section of this post, you’ll find a reader who disagrees with me.


Three paintings of “Hampstead Heath” by John Constable:

Connections · Frank Frazetta · Look Here

Connections: Jean-Jules-Antoine Lecomte du Nouÿ and Frank Frazetta

On 14 May 2012, James Gurney asked readers of his blog, Gurney Journey, if anyone could tell him what became of Jean-Jules-Antoine Lecomte du Nouÿ’s Les Porteurs de Mauvaises Nouvelles (“The Bearers of Bad News” — or better, “The Bad News Bearers!”), which was exhibited at the Salon of 1872. Upon seeing the image of the painting that Gurney posted, artist Craig Elliott contacted him to point out that Frazetta very clearly swiped one of the fallen figures in his painting Conan the Destroyer, and a side-by-side comparison was duly incorporated into the post. And then Rafael Kayanan noted that “a similar figure based on the second fallen male on the Lecomte can be found at the bottom left of Frazetta’s kneeling Kublai [sic] Khan plate.” It was all news to me, so…

I’ve posted both comparisons below, but please note that I haven’t borrowed any images from James Gurney’s site. If you want to view Gurney’s version of the comparison suggested by Craig Elliott, click here.


Turns out, Jean-Jules-Antoine Lecomte du Nouÿ’s Les Porteurs de Mauvaises Nouvelles, “long thought to have disappeared (and noted as such in Roger Diederen’s study on Lecomte de Nouÿ – see article in French) is in fact still held at the Tunisian Ministry of Cultural Affairs” (See Didier Rykner, “France’s Hidden Museum,” The Art Tribune,


Seeing Jean-Jules-Antoine Lecomte du Nouÿ’s Les Porteurs de Mauvaises Nouvelles reminded me of two other terrific paintings on the theme of indifference in the face of death and destruction: Eugène Delacroix’s The Death of Sardanapalus (1827) and Gustave Doré’s The Enigma (1872):



Ragged Claws Network > Connections: Frazetta and Jones