As a child I was fortunate enough to have access to my grandfather’s copy of “The Boy’s King Arthur.” Although the book itself was in a fragile state, I took great pains to peruse its pages. I remember being captivated by not only the legendary stories, but by the breath-taking artwork within. Having an inclination towards the visual even then, I can not embellish the dramatic impact these illustration had on my imagination.
The artist was none other than the seminal N. C. Wyeth, student of the great artist Howard Pyle, father of artists Andrew and Jamie Wyeth. He illustrated many classic stories, including Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe, and Robin Hood. His artwork was vividly realistic, capturing the adventure and depth of the Arthurian legends as no one else could. It brought those timeless characters to life for me, and I knew a part of my soul would never escape their mystery and influence.
Whenever I think of those wonderful stories, in fact anything relating to the Middle Ages, I think of the artwork from that book. My great love for the fantasy genre and for the culture and ascetic of those times can be largely credited to that work.
For more examples of N. C. Wyeth’s contribution to “The Boy’s King Arthur,” browse Wikimedia Commons’ collection of page scans.