Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Chesterton's Art

Chesterton was an artist before he was a writer. In fact, he went to art school, but discovered it wasn't for him. Still he drew everywhere on everything his whole life. Even on wallpaper and ceilings.

So it was with great curiosity that I read in the recent Gilbert magazine that some of Chesterton's art will be on display, for what I believe is the first time, in England.

This will take place (if you are so lucky to be able to travel there) in Oxford, England, at a new art gallery called ART JERICHO, opening on May 18, 2008 (you still have time to make travel plans).

One of the people attending the opening and speaking there is Dr. William Oddie, the author of the forthcoming book, The Making of GKC. But if you miss Dr. Oddie there, you have another opportunity to hear him speak at the Annual Chesterton Conference in June.

However, you won't get to see Chesterton's artwork unless you get over to England.


  1. However, if you can't get to England, there are other options.

    Alzina Stone Dale's The Art of G.K. Chesterton is a good place to start as a general introduction, both for images and for ideas. If you just want to look at pretty pictures (and some delightful prose), try to find a copy of GK's The Coloured Lands, which was compiled by Dorothy Collins after his death, if I recall correctly, and features lots of lush and colourful art.

    You could also go find a copy of one of Belloc's novels and leaf through it until you find the pictures; odds are they'll be Gilbert's.

    If you're willing to travel, the University of St. Michael's College in Toronto has a great Chesterton collection, in honour of his visit there those many years ago (where he first met Etienne Gilson, who would later prasie St. Thomas Aquinas so highly), including some sketchbooks and the like. It's a nice place to go even apart from their Chesterton stuff, really. Their site is here. It seems as though the selection of image samples they had online last time I went there is a broken link, now, but they'll probably fix it soon enough. Anyway, there's a nice enough sample on the main page next to the paragraph about "Original Sketches".

    That should be a start, anyway.

  2. I've often wondered why Chesterton didn't illustrate more of his own books. He drew illustrations for 'The Club of Queer Trades' and I think one or two of his early books of poetry. To the best of my knowledge, that was it. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have Chesterton's own illustrations for 'The Man Who Was Thursday' or the Father Brown stories?


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