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If you’ve been hanging out at Different Drum for a while, you know that vintage and antique book illustrations capture the DD imagination. Every once in a while, there is an artist who feels relevant to a modern aesthetic, but is, at the same time, firmly rooted in history.
Émile-Antoine Bayard was one of these rare characters. He succeeded in capturing the imaginations of readers with his space art during his lifetime, just as he does today.
Bayard was born in France in 1837. He started his art career at a very young age as an under the instruction of artist Léon Cogniet. He was very poor and supported himself by drawing illustrations for newspapers, the first of which he published when he was only 15 years old.
As the 19th Century drew to a close, the media had an increasing interest in the medium of photography. This medium inevitably began to displace news illustrators such as Bayard. In order to make his living, he made a career change to become a book illustrator.
It was as a book illustrator that he worked on books by some of the most famous authors of his time, including Victor Hugo, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Jules Verne. It is while working on novels by Verne that he made a name for himself by depicting space in a scientific way.
There had been imaginary views of other worlds, and even of space flight before this. But until Verne’s book appeared, these views all had been heavily colored by mysticism rather than science.
(Space Art, by Ron Miller)
Beginning with Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon and later in its sequel, A Trip Around the Moon, Bayard introduced a natural vision of the Universe to the collective imagination with all the drama demanded by this early science fiction.
Surely illustrating books for the father of Sci-Fi was no simple feat.
If you enjoyed these early space illustrations, you might want to read about moon symbolism in jewelry during the Victorian Era. Check it out on Different Drum.
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