Arthur Rackham was one of the greatest illustrators of the turn of the 20th century Golden Age of Illustration, that is to say one of the greatest illustrators of all time.
Though many are familiar with his beautiful illustrations for Rip van Winkle (images above, top), which established his reputation, and Gulliver’s Travels, as well as a number English and Irish fairy tales, and even his superb illustrations for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (above, second down) which I think are the only set to hold their own against John Tenniel’s definitive drawings, fewer have see what is perhaps Rackham’s masterwork, the illustrations for J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens (above, 5 & 6), or his stunning interpretations of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream (above, third down).
Fewer still are familiar with his dramatic and powerful illustrations for the three books of Wagner’s The Ring of the Niblung (above, bottom three).
Rackham’s pen and ink and watercolor illustrations could be alternately (and at times simultaneously) delicate and forceful, idyllic and frightening, refined and grungy, brilliantly light and eerily dark.
Since I first wrote about Rackham back in 2006, at which point I found very few resources for his work online, the internet has continued its Jack and the Banstalk-like growth, presenting us with new gifts on every leaf.
One of the best current resources for Rackham’s work, particularly his remarkable Ring illustrations, is the deceptively named Golden Age Comicbook Stories blog, in which our mysterious benefactor, “Mr. Door Tree”, has an amazing knack for finding and posting large high-quality images. Here is his post for The Ring of the Niblung, and here the set for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
If you click on his left column heading for Arthur Rackham, which does a search, keep going back through “Older posts” at page bottom for several pages of articles that include Rackham or are specifically about his work.
The other great resource on Rackham’s illustrations, and likely the most extensive one, is Art Passions. This is a landing page with links. Some of the links are to individual illustrations, others, however, are to entire sets from his major projects.
In print, you can find a number of reproductions of Rackham’s books and collections of his illustrations (Amazon link), with varying degrees of fidelity and quality.
The July, 2012 issue of ImagineFX magazine, which is currently on sale in the US (#84) has an article on Arthur Rackham.
I’ve listed some other resources below.
I’ll give this my Major Time Sink Warning.