I am a huge believer in the capability of art to take us into other worlds. In fact, it’s much the same way I feel about books. And when the two are brought together – a book and the artwork that represents it – the cosmos can utterly explode! Okay, well, they do for me, anyway.
Pauline Baynes was an illustrator of many, many classic children’s books, among them (of course!), The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Recently I came across a special edition of this book at a used book sale, in spanking new condition, with all of Baynes’ original artwork. Eeeekk!! And at 50 cents??!! Yeah, I was very excited.
Flipping through the pages, it came to me, not for the first time, how deeply a picture can make you feel about something, or some place. There are pictures of Narnia and many other stories still floating in my head from the first time I read them. And when those pictures resurface, no matter where I am or what I’m doing, I am instantly pulled back into the warmth and familiarity of the world they represent. It’s a truly wonderful feeling to know you have the power, within your own imagination, to tap into endless worlds, wonders, magic, and adventures at any given time.
So in honor of this wonderful artist (of whose illustrations Tolkien’s friends said had reduced his text to a mere “commentary on the drawings”), and in honor of the bewitching quality of art itself, I’m posting several of the illustrations from the original version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Are they what you imagine when you see Narnia? Which illustrators and/or works of art transport you into far worlds?