Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Jean-Baptiste Monge

Jean-Baptiste Monge
Jean-Baptiste Monge is a French fantasy illustrator with a specialty in portraying the world of faeries, elves, goblins and related faerie folk.

Monge’s detailed, beautifully rendered paintings have a textural quality and subdued color palette ideally suited to his portrayal of the denizens of the unseen world at our feet and the edges of our vision, living lives in miniature on the floor of the forest.

His images are mercifully free of the cloying cuteness sometimes associated with the subject in the hands of lesser artists, and carry a wonderful feeling of 19th century Victorian art and Golden Age illustration.

Monge is well known in France, where his books are quite popular, with titles like Halloween, Baltimore & Redingote, and In Search of Faeries, Volumes I and II (my loose translation of the titles may not be accurate), and the new Celtic Faerie. Monge also contributed heavily to The World of Dragons and has published a sketchbook (Carnet de Croquis).

Unfortunately for those of us on the other side of the Atlantic, there are no English language editions of his work yet, though you might be able to find a couple of French editions through Amazon’s extended suppliers, such as: A la recherche de féerie, volume 1: La Révélation and Baltimore & Redingote; or through importers like Stuart Ng Books.

Fortunately, however, Monge has a web site with a considerable selection of his work. Non-French speakers will be less put off by any language barrier than by a few navigation quirks. First you need to be aware that the primary navigation on the home page is hidden in a pop-out menu accessed from the little pot-O-gold at the top right of the page.

Journal de Board is the link to Monge’s Blog, Bibliographie & Galeries is where you will find a list of his books. Clicking on their covers gives you access to galleries of art from each title.

There is also a useful list of links (Liens). Interestingly, many of Monge’s links are to American fantasy artists, like James Gurney, Tony Diterlizzi and Peter de Séve (see my posts on James Gurney, Tony Diterlizzi and Peter de Séve). There is also a link to the work of Brian Froud, an artist more English speakers are likely to associate with faerie images, though I have to profess a preference for Monge’s take on the subject.

English speakers can also try a Google Translate version of Monge’s site.

Monge recently received the Spectrum Silver Award (video) for Book Illustration. (Via Tor.com)

8 thoughts on “Jean-Baptiste Monge

  1. Colin Peters

    My high-school French grades were… poor, to say the least, but I think “A la Recherche de Féerie” could be translated as “On Faeries” or even the rather prosaic “Fairy Research” (literally “On the research of faeries”). I think it might be a play on the well known “A la Recherche du Temps Perdu” which usually gets translated, loosely, as “Remembrance of Things Past”.

    Which is neither here nor there, really. The pictures are lovely.

    Thanks for the great posts, and every day, too! I don’t know how you do it.

  2. Brian Busch

    Thanks for posting this. I found his site through Gurney’s blog and I now check back often for inspiration. I too prefer his work to Froud’s (which I do like very much) When you compared him to Illustrators of the Golden Age, I think you nailed it on the head. Keep up the great work here, I check it everyday before heading into the studio to work.
    Cheers.

  3. Frank P. Ordaz

    Thank You for posting. You are right, he does have a spirit of the 19th century which adds to the depth of his illustrations and harkens to s time when draughtsmanship was valued.

  4. big fan

    I can’t speak english well enough.
    I just want to draw your attention to the sign of Rien Poortvliet.
    And thank you for posting this.

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