Monday, 25 February 2008

Note to self. Look into the life and works of Elizabeth Vigee Le Brun (1755-1842), portrait painter to Marie Antoinette who was depicted briefy in one scene in the movie, making a full-easel painting of the family group out-of doors (which I think unlikely if you will permit the picking of a nit), and who is seen in the beautiful self-portait at left at age 27.

There is an online site dedicated to the artist with an extraordinarily comprehensive gallery of her pictures. At a rough count there are over five hundred pieces contained there. There is also a sprightly biography taken complete from a 1922 monograph by Haldane MacFall. She made a bad start by marrying a ne'er-do-well. But then after making her exit from Revolutionary Paris well ahead of the year of Terror during which fourteen hundred heads were lopped off, the lady travelled all over Europe and was famous for her portraits everywhere she went. She lived to the grand old age of 87
Steve Whitaker just died. In 1990 he made the excellent colouring job on the book I mentioned yesterday, The New Adventures of Hitler. The interior views were full of floating wallpaper patterns. I always wondered whether that was Whitaker's contribution or whether artist Steve Yeowell planned it that way (The work was first drawn in black and white for Cut magazine). He also coloured V for Vendetta and that was first rate too. I seem to have been in proximity to Steve at a number of points in my career (e.g.) but we only ever exchanged a few words here and there. He was only 52, considered young these days, at least by me.

(I mentioned to Alan Moore a while back that we now find ourselves in that time when we are starting to lose our contemporaries. He replied. "We are in mortality country now, Eddie, and the guides and bearers have turned and fled.")

addendum: I picked the above page as one of the most subtle and interesting in the set, but after posting it i noticed a colouring mistake. I'm sure it must have bugged the hell out of Steve for the last 18 years. I fixed it, mate. Rather than replace it with another page I mended it in photoshop and reposted.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eddie, the news about Steve Whitaker shocks me deeply. I new Steve well, I am an artist and live in Bedford, Steve's home town. Infact I published one of his stories 'August 1943' in my small press comic Arcane Adventures. Steve had plans to draw a story of Bilqis, the Queen of Sheba, based heavily on the Baudelaire poem. Infact I own a watercolour of Bilqis he kindly gave me. Very sad news indeed.

We last spoke on Jan 1st and were going to meet up for a drink when time allowed. He had suffered a stroke over a year ago and was not that well. Also he acted as a carer for his dad, who is in his eighties. Oh dear, this is awful news. I feel very sad indeed, Adrian Stapleton, artist.

25 February 2008 at 19:21:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damn. Didn't really know him beyond saying hello at a convention back in the mists of time. I knew his work, of course. And I just remembered there's a chunk of his words on my blog since he was part of the big Watchmen discussion I posted a couple of years ago.

25 February 2008 at 23:35:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree with all you say about Madame Vigee-Lebrun, down to the fact that the family portrait she painted was indoors.
Also, for all interested in that fascinating woman, she left Memoirs, which were translated into English and can be found online:

26 February 2008 at 04:08:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Unknown said...

Never met Steve, but know his work well. The New Adventures of Hitler was particularly impressive. I'd love to know if the wallpaper was Yeowell or Whitaker's idea.

I remember my best friend's mother went nuts when she saw the cover with Hitler on it. She hit him repeatedly with his copy of crisis, then set fire to the comic, and kicked him out of the house. I'm pretty sure she didn't read it, but took offense to the title. This made Crisis a lot cooler in all of our minds (despite the fact that they bottled on 'skinz').

26 February 2008 at 04:22:00 GMT-5  
Blogger James Robert Smith said...

"We are in mortality country now, Eddie, and the guides and bearers have turned and fled."

Jove. Does stuff like that just float out of him? The guy scares me witless. I'd be afraid to talk to him.

26 February 2008 at 21:58:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I knew Steve fairly well several years ago, although we long since lost touch aside from a shared presence in various e-mail lists.

I still hoped to work with him professionally one day on a set of characters we'd developed (a retake on Hawk & Dove).

A good man, a great loss to many communities.

27 February 2008 at 12:45:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Unknown said...

Strange how the loss of mutual friends unites us. Tony Keen drew my attention to your comments on Steve. But for that, who knows how long it would be before I tripped over your blog. Martin Hand has established a memorial site at and a similar flickr community is also planned.

28 February 2008 at 06:05:00 GMT-5  

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