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Edmund Dulac - Gifted Gallery

Edmund Dulac, born 22 October 1882 was a French British naturalised magazine illustrator, book illustrator and stamp designer.

Dulac began his career by studying law at the University of Toulouse. He also studied art, switching to it full-time after he became bored with law, and having won prizes at the Ecole des Beaux Arts he continued his studies there. He married Alice May de Marini, an American, in 1903, the marriage was short lived and they divorced in 1904. He spent a very brief period at the Académie Julian in Paris in 1904 before moving to London.

Settling in London's Holland Park, the 22-year-old Frenchman was commissioned by the publisher J. M. Dent to illustrate Jane Eyre and nine other volumes of works by the Brontë sisters. He then became a regular contributor to The Pall Mall Magazine, and joined the London Sketch Club, which introduced him to the foremost book and magazine illustrators of the day.

Through these he began an association with the Leicester Galleries and Hodder & Stoughton; the gallery commissioned illustrations from Dulac which they sold in an annual exhibition, while publishing rights to the paintings were taken up by Hodder & Stoughton for reproduction in illustrated gift books, publishing one book a year.

Books produced under this arrangement by Dulac include Stories from The Arabian Nights, an edition of William Shakespeare's The Tempest, The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, The Sleeping Beauty and Other Fairy Tales, Stories from Hans Christian Andersen, The Bells and Other Poems by Edgar Allan Poe and Princess Badoura. Dulac became a naturalised British citizen on 17 February 1912.

During World War I he contributed to relief books, including King Albert's Book, Princess Mary's Gift Book, and, unusually, his own Edmund Dulac's Picture-Book for the French Red Cross. Hodder and Stoughton also published The Dreamer of Dreams – a work composed by the then Queen of Romania.

In the height of his book illustration commissions in 1911 he married Elsa Arnalice Bignardi. After Dulac separated from his wife in 1924, he lived with British writer Helen Beauclerk and would do so for the rest of his life. Dulac frequently used her as a model for his illustrations, and illustrated her two novels, The Green Lacquer Pavilion and The Love of the Foolish Angel.

After the war, the deluxe edition illustrated book became a rarity and Dulac's career in this field was over. His last such books were Edmund Dulac's Fairy Book, theTanglewood Tales and The Kingdom of the Pearl.

His career continued in other areas however, including newspaper caricatures (especially at The Outlook), portraiture, theatre costume and set design, bookplates, chocolate boxes, medals, and various graphics (especially for The Mercury Theatre at Notting Hill Gate).

He also produced illustrations for The American Weekly, a Sunday newspaper chain in America and Britain's Country Life. In 1935 Country Life published Gods and Mortals in Love based on a number of the contributions made by Dulac to Country Life previously. The Daughter of the Stars was a further publication to benefit from Dulac's artwork - due to constraints related to the outbreak of World War II, that title included just 2 colour images.

Dulac designed stamps (Marianne de Londres series) and banknotes for Free France during World War II. In the early 1940s Dulac also prepared a project for a Polish 20-zlotych note for the Bank of Poland (Bank Polski). This banknote (printed in England in 1942 but dated 1939) was ordered by the Polish Government in Exile and was never issued.

He continued to produce books for the rest of his life, more so than any of his contemporaries, although these were less frequent and less lavish than during the Golden Age. Halfway through his final book commission (Milton's Masque of Comus), Dulac died of a heart attack on 25 May 1953 in London.

Through his career he had also designed postage stamps for Great Britain, including the postage stamp issued to commemorate the Coronation of King George VI and contributed designs for the sets of stamps issued to commemorate the 1948 Summer Olympics and the Festival of Britain.

Dulac was one of the designers of the Wilding series stamps, which were the first definitive stamps of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. He was responsible for the frame around the image of the Queen on the 1s, 1s 3d and 1s 6d values although his image of the Queen was rejected in favour of a photographic portrait by Dorothy Wilding to which he carried out some modifications by hand. He also designed the 1s 3d value stamp of the set issued to commemorate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II but he died just before it was issued.



Reading Recommendations & Content Considerations

Illustrated In Full Colour

Fairy-Book Edmund Dulac


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