Medusa (c. 1875) by Frederick Sandys
Like William Waterhouse, Frederick Sandys
(1829-1904) is called a Pre-Raphaelite. Alas, in Sandys’ case it’s true: like Rossetti, he did belong to that despicable, deplorable and downright disgusting movement. But like Rossetti again, he sometimes managed to break the strict Pre-Raphaelite principles of ugliness, ill-proportion and bad colouring. Indeed, Sandys may have been the most technically skilled of the Pre-Raphaelites. The marvellous chalk-drawing above is a good piece of evidence for that.
• ’Dys Miss — Perdita by Frederick Sandys
“Alice and the Caterpillar” by John Tenniel (1820-1914), from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland (1865)
Ratschläge einer Raupe is one possible German translation of “Advice from a Caterpillar”, which is the title of chapter five of Alice in Wonderland. But the drawing above doesn’t need a translation. John Tenniel and Lewis Carroll were a classic combination, like Quentin Blake and J.P. Martin or Thomas Henry and Richmal Crompton. Tenniel drew fantastic things in a matter-of-fact way, which was just right.
But that makes me wonder about Ratschläge einer Raupe. In German, Rat-schlag means “piece of advice” and Ratschläge is the plural. At first glance, the title is more fun in German: it alliterates and trips off the the tongue in a way the English doesn’t. And Schlag literally means “blow, stroke”, which captures the behaviour of the caterpillar well. Like many of the characters Alice encounters in Wonderland, he is a prickly and aggressive interlocutor. “Advice from a Caterpillar” is plain by comparison.
So perhaps that makes it better: it’s a matter-of-fact title for a surreal chapter. Tenniel’s art echoes that.