Walter Crane was primarily a designer and book illustrator, specialising in
children's books. He was born in Liverpool on 15 August 1845, moving to London with his family in
1857. After a period during which he worked on illustrations for a poem of Tennyson, he
became apprenticed to the famous wood engraver William James Linton and studied drawing in
his spare time. In 1862 he exhibited The Lady of Shalott at the Royal Academy. His
first illustrated book, The New Forest, was published the following year.
He was a great admirer of Edward Burne-Jones,
whose work he first saw at the Old Watercolour Society in 1865. In his autobiography he
recalled what a deep impression Burne-Jones' pictures made upon him:
'The curtain had been lifted, and we had a glimpse into a magic world of romance
and pictured poetry, peopled with ghosts
of "ladies dead and lovely knights" - a twilight world of dark mysterious woodlands,
haunted streams, meads of deep green starred with burning flowers, veiled in a dim
and mystic light, and stained with low-toned crimson and gold..'
[An Artist's Reminiscences, 1907]
Crane's later watercolours of slightly menacing wooded landscapes and vague but sinister
mythical events represent a world which the artist has dreamt of rather than visited.
In 'Diana' the huntress seems to be leading her male followers through a primeval
forest, perhaps to their destruction. He died in London on 15 March 1915.
Walter Crane Archive
In February 2002, the University of Manchester, England acquired the Walter Crane Archive (drawings, original designs for book illustrations, paintings, diaries, notebooks, photographs and press cuttings are included, spanning Crane’s entire career).
Portrait of Walter Crane Esq by GF Watts, and signature of Walter Crane