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Sidney Paget - Strand Illustrator
The Illustrator
First appeared in the Strand Magazine in 'The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' in 1891. It was Walter Paget (Sidney's brother) who was originally commissioned for the illustrations of Sherlock Holmes, but it was sent to Sidney by mistake. Sidney then modelled Sherlock Holmes on his brother Walter and that image has been indelibly fixed in the minds of us all since then.

The Brothers

The brothers Henry Marriott Paget, Sidney Edward Paget and Walter Stanley Paget (including 2 other brothers in the family) were illustrators in magazines of the 1880s onwards, working with wash drawings in a fairly realistic style. All three also painted, but unfortunately their work is now largely forgotten.

Henry Marriott Paget RBA (1856-1936)

The oldest brother, Henry Paget was a painter of historical subjects and portraits. He was born in London, entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1874, and exhibited at the Academy from 1879-94. His wife Henrietta (nee Henrietta Farr) also painted. Henry Paget's paintings, especially his historical scenes, were illustrative rather than inspiring. He also used mythological subjects - Circe, Odysseus and so on. As an illustrator, his high point was in the Balkan War of 1912-13, when he was illustrator for the Sphere in Constantinople.

Sidney Edward Paget(1860-1908?)

Sidney Paget was born in London, started drawing at a young age, and studied from the antique at the British Museum for two years before entering Heatherley's School of Art, and subsequently the Royal Academy Schools. He had many pictures exhibited at the Royal Academy, his first when he was 18. His subjects included landscapes and mythological subjects, with titles such as A Perilous Passage and A Knight with Fairies. A more impressive work was Outcast (1899), a rather grim picture showing a troupe of cavemen in the snow.

Additional

Sidney Paget turned increasingly to black and white work from the 1890s. He was important in that he was the illustrator of Sherlock Holmes, choosing as his model his brother Walter. Despite Conan Doyle complaining that his creation was not nearly so handsome, most versions of Holmes - illustrated and on the screen - have continued to be based on Paget's original. His other illustrative work included war subjects from Egypt and the Soudan. His illustrations can also be found without difficulty in old books and magazines, and a painting by him called Mountainous Landscape, carried out in a consciously 'old master' style, is in Leeds City Art Gallery.

Walter Stanley Paget (1863-1935)

The youngest brother, signing himself as 'Wal Paget', was a gold medallist at the RA, and was described as 'a good figure draughtsman, with a strong poetic feeling for landscape... working with unconventional, fresh composition'. He also turned to drawing for the books and magazines, producing coloured illustrations of pretty girls, rather feeble rustic interiors, and easy-to-view scenes of country life, soldiers and girls, and courting couples. He had a keen sense of correct costume for his figures, as shown to advantage in many of his illustrations, for example to Robinson Crusoe in the early 1890s.

 

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