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E.H. Shepard: An Illustrator’s War

On the NYR Daily, Jenny Uglow writes, “I had lazily pigeonholed E.H. Shepard as the genius who drew Winnie-the-Pooh, Eeyore, Tigger, Kanga, and Roo, his images as enduring as A.A. Milne’s text, and who also gave us the unforgettable Ratty and Mole and Toad in Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows. Here he draws with deft pencil strokes and minimal background, and a cartoonist’s eye for short-hand shape; silhouettes of these figures would be instantly recognizable. But the genius lies in his evocation of movement: Pooh’s rotund clumsiness, Eeyore’s saggy body and roping head, Tigger’s unstoppable bounce, Kanga’s panic as baby Roo disappears. This is the Shepard we know best.

Yet in an intriguing exhibition at the House of Illustration, the brilliant new public gallery behind King’s Cross station in London—the first place in England to give real space to this underrated art—Shepard’s work does not show Pooh’s Hundred Acre Wood, or Ratty’s slow-flowing Thames. Instead he is sketching amid the mud and gunfire of the World War I trenches—“that dreadful countryside,” as Shepard called it, made vividly immediate in his depiction of shells exploding like puffs of cotton wool against grey mist and broken trees.”

For more information, visit houseofillustration.org.uk.

Category: Exhibition
The House of Illustration
2 Granary Square,
London, England