and to show you I’m not proud, you may shake hands with me!
About the work
From Peter Blake’s 1970 portfolio of eight screenprints, Illustrations to Through the Looking Glass, this print illustrates a scene from Lewis Caroll’s classic novel, Alice Through the Looking Glass (1872). The sequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865), Carroll’s book was illustrated by John Tenniel. His subject was based on Alice Liddell, the middle daughter of Sir Henry Liddell, Dean of Christ Church College, Oxford University. A mathematician as well as a writer, Carroll lectured in mathematics at Oxford from 1855 to 1881.
Blake based his prints on watercolours made in 1969, after moving from London to Wellow, a village near Bath in Avon. He was one of several artists based in the West Country, known in the mid 1970s as the 'Brotherhood of Ruralists'. His move to the country, coinciding with the birth of his first child, led to his fascination with the work of Victorian children's writers and illustrators, examples of which he had begun collecting in the mid 1960s. His interest was shared with the painter, Graham Ovenden, one of his students at the Royal College of Art. Blake’s classic sequence of eight watercolours, later also published as prints, became among the best known of his works, which, like Tenniel’s original Victorian illustrations, were distinctive for their spirit, imagination and painstaking attention to detail and technique.
Blake read the book several times in preparation for the series. His model for Alice was Amelia Gatacre, whose sister Sophie posed for Tweedledum, and whose parents were family friends. The girls' grandparents lived near Deventer in Holland, and had a garden laid out according to the chess board in Alice through the Looking Glass. During a visit there with the Gatacres, Blake read passages from the book to Amelia (then aged nine) and asked her to enact scenes. He then photographed the scenes. According to Blake, Amelia was a marvellous model who identified closely with the story and posed thoughtfully for each scene.
Peter Blake (1932 - )
- and to show you I’m not proud, you may shake hands with me!
- Portfolio Title
- Illustrations to Through the Looking Glass
- Purchased from Waddington Galleries, October 1974
- below image: 76/100 / Peter Blake
- GAC number