Anyone who visits Shelf Appeal once in a while, or more often, will know I heart Lewitt-Him illustrations. And also George Him and Jan Le Witt illustrations. As they weren’t always joined at the pen and paintbrush in partnership.
Their work has such a distinctive style it can be spotted in all sorts of places. Collins magazine, ‘a children’s literary magazine’ (imagine such a thing) ran from the late 1940s through a Coronation re-name to The Young Elizabethan and then The Elizabethan. It is full of articles, stories, images and adverts for occupying ones time usefully. In a 1952-stylee.
In a reflection of both the editorial approach and the status of illustrators at the time, the Editors note introduces the artists at some length to readers. It seems this was the first cover Lewitt-Him did for the magazine but not the last:
‘Lewitt-Him will be doing other COLLINS covers for us, working together in their own particular – or peculiar – way, a ‘Gilbert and Sullivan in paint’ as our Art Editor puts it.’
I like to think this image was researched on the spot in London Zoo. I worked there for a bit and really liked the strange sense of history about the place. Which was complimented and enhanced by the various mad architectural conceits built for the animals to try and live in.
N.B. Please note the stilts in this image, which bring our photographer up to a height nearer that of his subject!
It’s funny; if you’d shown me the illustration without the context, I would have put this down as the cover of Punch magazine. It’s very much the sort of humourous cover art they had for seemingly ever during the sixties and seventies, and which are etched on my brain as the only thing to look at in the dentist’s waiting room as a kid. Did L&H do anything for them?
Is that a flash-bulb in his pocket?!
Well by the 1960s the pair had split, so if Punch covers were done it would have been by one or the other of them.