Friday, April 13, 2012

That Wandering Troubadour

The most recent published checklist of the work of "Imperial Illustrator of Oz" John R. Neill was compiled by James Haff. It appeared in 1977, the centennial of Neill’s birth, in the Oz Club’s journal, The Baum Bugle. The 1977 checklist was an excellent advance on the Neill information previously available, but it had errors and omissions. For instance, no one had at that point checked all the Altemus boys and girls series to see which volumes Neill had actually illustrated.

In 1993 Dan Smith, then co-editor and production artist on The Baum Bugle, was working on an updated Neill checklist. That revised checklist corrected some of the 1977 information and added plenty of new information. It also raised new questions. The Dan Smith checklist has never been published, which is a shame. It should be - although at this point it needs its own update.

Case in point: One of Dan’s questions was whether a Neill-illustrated edition of El Trovador, the 1836 Spanish Romantic play by García Gutiérez (the basis for Verdi’s opera Il Trovatore), had ever been published by Ginn and Company.  Preparatory drawings by Neill for an illustrated version of El Trovador were in the possession of Neill’s daughters, but Dan wondered whether anyone had ever seen a copy. Did the book even exist?

Well, the answer turned out to be “yes.” A copy of Neill’s 1926 illustrated version of El Trovador has been hanging out in the Tiger Den for several years now, thanks to an online search prompted by Dan’s question. And now Hungry Tiger Press is happy to present some of those illustrations for your viewing pleasure, executed in Neill’s intricate pen-and-ink style.


Nathan said...

The woman looks quite a bit like Shirley Sunshine.

saintfighteraqua said...

I agree Nathan!

@HTT This is really a bit of history, I bet you own one of the few copies left.
Any chance you can show us more later?