Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
Drawn to Order: British Illustration since 1800
Academic Year
Semester 1
Exclusive (Any Acad Year)
Reading List
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Research project  2500 Words  50%
Semester Assessment Essay  (2,500 words plus biliography and documented illustrations.)  50%
Supplementary Assessment Research project  2500 Words  50%
Supplementary Assessment Essay  (2,500 words plus biliography and documented illustrations.)  50%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

Demonstrate a critical understanding of the technical, socio-historical and art historical contexts of illustrators and their work;

Explain the function of illustration and the role of the illustrator, book designer and typographer over time;

Evaluate ways in which illustrators have interpreted texts and drawn for the different print media used in book production;

Identify period styles and historic print media, demonstrating an understanding and sure handling of technical terminology.

Brief description

During the nineteenth century the physical appearance of illustrated books changed as production grew from a handcraft into an industry. Cheap books gave access to fine prints for all and, as conveyors of information, books were of great significance in public self-education and entertainment.

In this module we will consider the relationship between image, text and technology as well as illustrated books within their social and art historical contexts. Thomas Bewick’s wood-engraved animal studies, for example, reveal his intense love of nature and a growing concern for the fair treatment of animals. Millais’ and Leighton’s pious scenes of family life, unrequited love, deathbed melodrama and idealized visions of medieval chivalry will tell us much about the codes, conduct and aspirations of middle-class Victorians. We will discover how William Morris’s social conscience and an opposition to mechanization and mass production led him to establish the Kelmscott Press to hand print books in emulation of medieval craftsmen, a legacy that would live on in the twentieth-century private presses. And we consider how the erotic, often scandalous illustrations of Aubrey Beardsley, elaborate in their artificiality and steeped in the frustrations of male sexual desire, lay bare Fin de Siècle decadence.

We will see how in the twentieth century the market became increasingly international. As London’s great publishing houses became a magnet for international artists, Frenchman Edmund Dulac, Hungarian Willy Pogany and Kay Nielsen from Denmark joined home-grown talents such as Beatrix Potter and Arthur Rackham whose bizarre anthropomorphized tree roots and absurd-looking gnomes would influence generations of illustrators from Walt Disney to Maurice Sendak and Chris Riddell, demonstrating the continued importance of book illustration, its potential to entertain, provoke thought and delight.

There will be opportunities to handle rare private and commercial press books from the National Library of Wales and the School of Art collections. This module is especially useful to fine art students who will be specializing in book illustration.


1. Exploring Illustration. Module overview. Assessment explained. Illustration before 1800. L

2. Thomas Bewick and the Commercial Illustrated Book. L

3. The Golden Age of British Book Illustration: The 1860s. L

4. The Victorian Soap: Illustrations for Periodicals of the 1860s. S

5. Refining Colour: from Wood Engraving to Halftone. L

6. William Morris and Private Press Historicism. L

7. Aubrey Beardsley and the Art Nouveau Book. L

8. A feast of rare incunabula and private press books at the National Library of Wales. S

9. Private Presses, Vale to Gregynog and Golden Cockerel. S

10. From Boxwood and Zinc Plate to Cellulose: Commercial Illustrated Books, 1920-1950. S

11. ​Continuity and Departures: Illustration since 1950. Revision. L

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Communication Articulating ideas through seminar discussions. Academic writing skills in the essay and project.
Improving own Learning and Performance Independent study through seminar assignment research and preparation. Manage time to prepare for classes and submit assignments to deadline.
Information Technology Information retrieval from various academic research portals and online museum collection databases.
Personal Development and Career planning Emphasis on professional presentation of research and list of books cited and consulted using MLA documentation.
Problem solving In seminar preparation and discussion, essay research and writing. Illustrator and print technique identification. Essay research and writing. Analyze and interpret illustrated books and the achievements of their makers.
Research skills In seminar preparation, bibliography and essay research and writing.
Subject Specific Skills Analysis and interpretation of images. Grounding in the materials used and techniques employed in book publishing. Handling of rare books from School of Art and National Library of Wales collections.


This module is at CQFW Level 6