Gallery 2 – Miscellaneous Illustrations of the Rubaiyat.

Gallery 2A – Edmund J. Sullivan.

Folder 1: Sullivan's Rubaiyat.

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We begin this Gallery with Sullivan because he was one of very few artists who, in a book first published by Methuen & Company in 1913, attempted the daunting task of illustrating all 75 verses of FitzGerald’s first edition, plus a generic frontispiece. Actually, as Sullivan explained in a preface to this edition, he had begun the task for a different publisher some years earlier, but the project fell through after he had completed only nine of the illustrations. Five of these were published in The Pall Mall Magazine in 1900 and two others reproduced in a special “Pen and Ink” number of The Studio in 1901. The remaining sixty seven, though, were completed after a gap of some years and not published before the Methuen edition in 1913. Since Sullivan’s preface (somewhat obscurely entitled “Epilogia pro Opere suo, et cœteris”, followed by “ARTIFEX loquitur:”) seems not to have been reprinted in any subsequent edition, it is well worth quoting an extract from it here:

“To endeavour, however slightly, to sum up, or to ‘throw light upon’, seventy-five verses of no matter what import, in terms of drawing, is obviously somewhat of a task; and it may be said that in its performance great licence has been taken. This is true; but there is, it may be pointed out, artistic as well as poetic licence. These two are only verbally distinguishable; but what is a well-understood and allowable matter in the case of the poet, is often misunderstood and disallowed in the case of the artist; and a bold claim is here made, not personally only but on behalf of the artist at large, for equal indulgence with the poet.

No hesitation has been felt in paraphrasing graphically the meaning of a quatrain, nor in introducing the most glaring anachronisms in the use of symbol. This note is inserted here in all kindliness to spare the erudite in such matters the trouble of pointing out, for instance, that Omar was dead some years before Napoleon was born, of which I recently became aware; and that the Salvation Army had not established a cult in Persia at the time that Bacchus, B.A., Oxon., was extension-lecturing in Naishapur.

I know, too, that no other B.A. of ‘Oxford College’ ever had vine leaves in his hair.

‘But these are foolish things to all the wise
And I love wisdom more than she loves me.’

‘At all costs the book must live,’ as the great FitzGerald said.

My best acknowledgements are due to my friend, Mr Hamilton Minchin (Kymry), for his learned, but necessarily conjectural, horoscope of Omar, for quatrain LIV, which will be found of much interest to astrologers.” (p.xv-xvi)

Inevitably some of Sullivan’s 76 illustrations are more interesting than others, and the ones featured in this gallery (in Folder 1) are chosen to illustrate a variety of points raised in this essay.

As with the illustrators featured in Gallery 1C, some of Sullivan’s illustrations feature naked women for no apparent reason – see Figs. 9, 10, 12 and 19. Fig.9 (verse 39) uses a naked young woman being chased by an Omar-like figure to symbolise the “infinite Pursuit of This and That endeavour and dispute”. Fig.10 (verse 40) is another example of the Daughter of the Vine being depicted as a naked young woman, in contrast to Old Barren Reason. Fig.12 (verse 44), in illustrating the “black Horde of Fears and Sorrows that infest the Soul” bears interesting comparison with the hellish torments depicted in the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch or those depicted in various paintings of “The Temptation of St. Antony”, notably those by Martin Schongauer and Matthias Grünewald.

Typically, Sullivan depicts Omar’s beloved as a woman – she is there in Fig.2 (verse 11), and in the illustrations to verses 9 and 10. She is there again in Fig.4 (verse 19), leaning upon “the River’s Lip”, and again in Fig.20 (verse 74), where she is “Moon of my Delight.”

Sullivan was also one of those artists who very effectively illustrated the “Kuza-Nama” (“The Book of Pots”) – see Figs. 15-17. Fig.15 (verse 60) illustrates the more impatient Pot who cried, “Who is the Potter, pray, and who the Pot?” Fig.16 (verse 63) gives a rather surreal depiction of “a Vessel of a more ungainly Make”, with a wonderful sneering pot to the lower left. Fig.17 (verse 64) depicts the optimistic pot who says of God, “Pish! He’s a Good Fellow, and ‘twill all be well.”

Some of Sullivan’s drawings are interesting for the little details that emerge as you go over them.

Fig.1 (verse 7) shows the Bird of Time as an eagle clutching an hour-glass between its talons, the sand spilling out from the glass as it soars upwards. Note the curious detail of the arrow, seemingly about to pierce the breast of the eagle and bring it down. The hour-glass, of course, is a well-known symbol of Time, but it is also used as a symbolic attribute of Death (see, for example, the various illustrations in Gallery 8D, Folder 2 and Gallery 8D, Folder 3.) Less well-known is the arrow as a symbolic attribute of Death, for which see Gallery 8D, Folder 3.

Fig.3 (verse 16) depicts “this batter’d Caravanserai” as “The Globe Tavern” which is licensed to sell Aqua Vitae to be “consumed on the premises”. Instead of Sultan after Sultan we see a Pope (preceded by a Caesar – or the Napoleon of Sullivan’s preface? – and followed by an Admiral (?)) exiting the Tavern and heading for Charon’s Ferry to the Underworld, the fare being 1 obolus. [This is a reference to Charon’s obol. It was an ancient Greek tradition to place a 1 obol coin inside the mouths of the dead to pay for their journey across the River Styx to the next world. The custom was later adopted by the Romans, and subsequently spread with their Empire. It even made its way into Christian folklore, the practice surviving as late as the 19th century in parts of Greece and Asia Minor. For an excellent account of the custom and its history, see L.V.Grinsell, “The Ferryman and his Fee: a Study in Ethnology, Archaeology, and Tradition”, in Folklore, vol.68, no.1 (March 1957), p.257-269. Students of Omar will be pleased to note that the practice had its skeptics. One Roman had the following inscription carved on his tombstone: “There is no Boat of Hades, no Ferryman Charon.” (Grinsell p.264; also Appendix 14a for more details.] In Fig.3, note also the weeping infant and figure of Death to the lower left of the picture, which invites comparison with Nicolas Blasset’s cherub with skull, one of the memento mori images reproduced in Gallery 8C (Fig.13 & Fig.14.)

Fig.5 (verse 22) represents a young woman on her death bed, the bed actually being the top of a tomb. The scene is attended by the figures of Time, with his scythe (and a just visible forelock), and a curiously long-haired skeletal figure of Death. Again, see Gallery 8D, Folder 2 and Gallery 8D, Folder 3 for related images and their symbolism.

Fig.6 (verse 27) with Doctor and Saint in great Argument, and with Omar coming out by the same door as in he went. The door is pivoted in the middle, like a modern revolving door, almost too narrow to get either in or out, and with no indication of which way is in and which way is out – so little does it matter. The lintel of the door is labelled Athenæum – the name of the Temple in Ancient Athens where philosophers met to discuss their work (and also the name of a famous gentleman’s club in London!) Over the door is written, in mock Latin, “this happy house”, but this has been scribbled out. To the right of the door is a funny face labelled, in mock Greek, “Socrates, idiot”; a cartoon of a bearded man labelled Plato; and another figure (obscured by the beggar’s crutch) labelled Aristotle.

Fig.7 (verse 32) represents the mystery of life and death (“a Door to which I found no Key”) in the form of a Sphinx (on which see the Note on Gallery 3J.)

Fig.8: though this illustrates verse 35 it seems to relate more to the Vessel’s previous appearance as the Earthen Bowl in verse 34, with its injunction to “Drink! – for once dead you never shall return.” It appears to show Death kneeing his victim in the back and stealing his final drink!

Fig.11 (verse 43) is explained by Sullivan’s preface, for the figure is Bacchus, B.A., Oxon, lecturing in Naishapur to an audience of church dignitaries, which includes (just!) the bonnet of a member of the Salvation Army. On the board to which he points is a zodiacal Seal of Solomon (or hexagram), with, at its centre, “The Grape that can with Logic absolute / The Two-and-Seventy jarring Sects confute.” The scene is seemingly the dream of the sleeping Omar in the background. Quite what the two leopards are doing there is a puzzle, unless they are an allusion to the phrase, “Can the leopard change his spots?” which comes from Jeremiah 13.23.

Fig.13 (verse 54) is the “conjectural horoscope of Omar”, mentioned in Sullivan’s preface, the signature of the astrologer, “Kymry”, appearing at the bottom left. The horoscope, of course, represents Omar’s “predestin’d Plot of Dust and Soul.” Note the predestined Vine growing from the figure of a Heart, presumably symbolic of Love and Wine.

Fig.14 (verse 58) is an interesting depiction of Eve wrapped in the coils of the Snake – interpret the expression on Eve’s face as you will! Sullivan’s illustration bears comparison with images of Lilith, for which see the Note on Gallery 3I.

At the time of writing (April 2013), all of Sullivan’s 75 black and white illustrations for the quatrains can be found online at:

Less often seen, because not included in many later editions, is the coloured frontispiece that was included in the first Methuen edition of 1913 (and their second edition of 1923). For this reason, it is included here as Fig.21. It does not relate to any specific verse, but clearly draws elements from lines like, “Another and another Cup to drown / The Memory of this Impertinence!” (v.30); “I yet in all I only cared to know, / Was never deep in anything but – Wine” (v.41) and, “Have drown’d my Honour in a shallow Cup, / And sold my Reputation for a Song.” (v.69) The significance of the two characters behind Omar is open to interpretation. They seem to be a young woman with a rose, representing another source of Omar’s distraction from study, and an old man expressing his disdain at Omar’s state. The frontispiece is clearly related to Sullivan’s illustration to verse 69, here reproduced as Fig.18.

As an interesting sidelight on Sullivan’s illustrations of The Rubaiyat, a critic in The Burlington Magazine made a savage attack on them in the issue for December 1913:

“One cannot imagine anyone more hopelessly unqualified to illustrate Omar than Mr Sullivan has shown himself to be. His drawings, from the ugly frontispiece onwards, are entirely out of sympathy with their subject; sometimes they are vulgar in addition. He desecrates the poem instead of adorning it.”

In the “Letters to the Editor” section of the issue for February 1914, Sullivan quoted this review and quite rightly complained that though the critic was entitled to his views, “this review is not criticism, but simple abuse, unjustified by evidence and, I prefer to think, unjustifiable.” Sullivan went on to say that “such methods are hardly in accordance with the traditions and policy of a responsible and weighty journal devoted to a serious view of past and current art.” Incredibly, the Editor appended a note to Sullivan’s letter saying that “having examined Mr Sullivan’s illustrations, we endorse the remarks quoted by him in the above letter”! Whether this dispute owed anything to the attitude of Sullivan’s preface is not clear.

Folder 2: Sullivan's Sartor Resartus.

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Sullivan also did an interesting illustrated edition of Thomas Carlyle’s strange philosophical novel Sartor Resartus. The edition was published by George Bell, in London, in 1898, though the novel itself was first published in the 1830s. For those not familiar with it, the book is sub-titled The Life and Opinions of Herr Teufelsdrőckh, and it purports to be a commentary by an Editor (a fictionalised Carlyle) on a book entitled Clothes, their Origin and Influence, by a fictitious German Philosopher called Diogenes Teufelsdrőckh. The name is significant – Diogenes certainly means “God born” (or “Born of Heaven” – p.187), but Teufelsdrőckh is more of a puzzle: it seems intended to hint at something like “Devil’s filth”, if drőckh (which doesn’t exist as a word in German) is read as a ‘polite’ dreck. (Carlyle himself deliberately left it as a puzzle – see p.109-110.) As for the title of the book, Sartor Resartus, in Latin it means literally “The Mender Re-mended” or, as it is sometimes rendered in the present clothes-related context, “The Tailor re-tailored” – that is, Teufelsdrőckh’s Philosophy of Clothes re-examined. Since Teufelsdrőckh “undertakes no less than to expound the moral, political, even religious Influences of Clothes” (p.66; see in particular the note on Figs.7 & 8 below), the book is effectively a vehicle for Carlyle’s somewhat sour analysis of Humankind [eg “man is, and was always, a blockhead and dullard” (p.72)] and in particular of Modern Society [eg the barbed reference to “ the ‘Mammon God’ and … ‘Vanity’s Workhouse and Ragfair’” of the industrial centres of “Huddersfield and Manchester, and Coventry and Paisley, and the Fancy-Bazaar” (p.246)] Carlyle escapes direct blame for the analysis, of course, by the pretence that these are the theories of a radical German philosopher! It has to be said that though Sartor Resartus is an intriguing book, it has, over the years, probably puzzled more readers than it has enlightened! [As indeed Carlyle anticipates when he writes, under the guise of the Editor, that “many a British Reader sits reading quite bewildered in head, and afflicted rather than instructed by the present Work” (p,311).]

As might be expected from the nature of Carlyle’s text, then, Sullivan’s illustrations are rife with symbolism, some of which is of particular interest here as it does relate to his later Rubaiyat illustrations. Sullivan wrote a “Letter of Introduction” to the book in which he expressed surprise that no-one before him had illustrated Sartor Resartus, adding that he himself was attracted to the task because the text “left so much elbow-room” for his imagination. After all, he said, in words that link us firmly with Omar, “the subject was the history of mankind, and his relation to infinity; his greatness and his nothingness.” (p.viii) [As examples of this aspect of the book, Teufelsdrőckh says at one point, “The secret of Man’s Being is still like the Sphinx’s secret: a riddle that he cannot rede.”(p.69; also p.155; cf. Folder 1, Fig.7) Again, “thus must the bewildered Wanderer stand…shouting question after question into the Sibyl-cave of Destiny, and receive no Answer but an Echo.”(p.193) And one final Omarian snippet, “thus Sect after Sect, and Church after Church, bodies itself forth, and melts again into new metamorphosis.”(p.316)]

Sullivan concluded his “Letter of Introduction” with words that will remind many readers of FitzGerald’s approach to translating Omar:

“Sometimes I have adhered to the text, sometimes only to the general spirit of the book, and the fancies stirred by it; in some cases, perhaps, the drawings may be considered obscure or far-fetched: the drawings themselves must apologize as best they can.” (p.x)

As we have already seen in Sullivan’s preface to his illustrated edition of The Rubaiyat, he found considerable “elbow room” for his imagination there too!

Twelve of Sullivan’s illustrations to Sartor Resartus are shown here by way of example:

Fig.1 – Titled by Sullivan “Truth and the Prince of Lies”, the Knight is clearly Truth, disarmed by the naked girl, who is the agent of the Devil – the Prince of Lies “with whom we do at all times wage internecine war.” (p.14) Note the skeletal reflection of the girl in the mirror. Compare the naked running girl, also with mirror, in Folder 1, Fig.9 (Rubaiyat v.39.)

Fig. 2 and Fig.3 – Adam and Eve, Ancient and Modern. As Sullivan wrote in his “Letter of Introduction”: “I have pretended here and there that clothes were the serious business of the book, a thin pretence of Carlyle’s own.” Eve and the Serpent, of course, feature in Folder 1, Fig.14 (Rubaiyat v.58.)

Fig.4 – Titled by Sullivan “The Schoolmaster of the Future”, this is a satirical comment on Teachers who are “hide-bound Pedants, without knowledge of man’s nature or of boy’s; or of aught save their lexicons and quarterly account-books.” (p.129)

Fig.5 – Untitled by Sullivan in the text, but titled in the List of Illustrations as “Shams”, it seems to relate to “a Statistics of Imposture”, and the arts “of Puffery, of Quackery, Priestcraft, Kingcraft and the innumerable other crafts and mysteries of that genus” by which the Public are taken-in (p.137). Here Death, bearing the usual attributes of Time, the Scythe and the Hour-glass, is disguising his true nature with a peacock feather and a smiling mask. A good example of Sullivan using his “elbow room”!

Fig.6 – Titled by Sullivan “War”, and a relative of his later drawings for his book The Kaiser’s Garland (1915), for which see Gallery 8F (Figs.8 – 10) and the commentary on it. The drawing illustrates a battlefield – a former place of fruit-trees and hedge-rows, blown apart by gunpowder, and turned into “a desolate, hideous Place of Skulls.” But nevertheless, “all that gore and carnage will be shrouded in, absorbed into manure; and next year the Marchfeld will be green, nay greener.”(p.203-4) Compare the correspondence between Carlyle and FitzGerald on the site of the Battle of Naseby, quoted in the notes on verse 15.

Fig.7 and Fig. 8 neatly illustrate “the moral, political, even religious Influences of Clothes”. The former is the heading illustration for the chapter “Symbols” (p.252), in which are shown the vestments of Church, State, Army (?), Law, Learning and Art (the last being a mere fig-leaf!) The latter, untitled in the text (p.255), but titled in the List of Illustrations as “A Fool’s Paradise”, represents Society by dress-code – note Woman to the lower left and the original Diogenes, in his barrel, to the lower right. Note also the Garden Wall, with its jagged-glass top, which imprisons the inhabitants; and the thorns which surround Woman.

Fig.9 – Another drawing where Sullivan has used his “elbow room” to the full. It is untitled in the text, but titled in the List of Illustrations as “The Symbol Shop”. It seems to represent the annihilation of “the past Forms of Society” by “that boundless ‘Armament of Mechanisers’ and Unbelievers, threatening to strip us bare!” (p.270) Here the relics of those Past Forms of Society are tumbled together as if in a junk-shop, “the ‘rags and tatters of old Symbols’.” (p.272). Note the Skull, the Hour-glass and Scythe again; also the god Pan in the background, partly hidden by a spider’s web (he reappears in Fig.10).

Fig.10 – Another imaginative drawing, untitled by Sullivan in the text, but titled in the List of Illustrations as “the Bedlam of Creation”. It relates to the “motley vision” wherein “the whole Pageant of Existence passes awfully before us; with its wail and jubilee, mad loves and mad hatreds, church-bells and gallows-ropes, farce-tragedy, beast-godhood, – the Bedlam of Creation.” (p.280) Note Pan again (wearing a fig-leaf!), and the Pawnbroker’s shop in the background, owned by “E.J.Sullivan”, no less. This bears comparison with the imaginative street / jetty scene in Folder 1, Fig.3 (Rubaiyat v.16.)

Fig.11 – Untitled by Sullivan in the text, but titled in the List of Illustrations as “Time and Death”, it accompanies the lines from Shakespeare’s Tempest, “We are such stuff / As Dreams are made of, and our little Life / Is rounded with a sleep!” (p.306) This drawing combines the Hour-glass and Wings of Time with the Skull and Serpent of Death (on which multiple-symbols, see Gallery 8D, and the commentary on it.)

Fig.12 – The heading illustration for the final chapter, “Farewell.” In the List of Illustrations its title is given as “The Philosopher’s Pen”, and it is interesting that the quill pen and its drop of ink form a question mark. This possibly relates to Philosophers generally, but possibly more particularly to Diogenes Teufelsdrőckh, of whom the Editor writes, “Still the question returns on us: How could a man occasionally of keen insight, not without keen sense of propriety, who had real Thoughts to communicate, resolve to emit them in a shape bordering so closely on the absurd? Which question he were wiser than the present Editor who should satisfactorily answer.”(p.338)

At the time of writing, all of Sullivan’s 77 illustrations for Sartor Resartus can be accessed online, with some commentary, at:

Another interesting illustration by Sullivan – for H.G.Wells’ A Story of the Days to Come (1899) – can be found in Gallery 5B, Fig.5. For his illustrations to la Motte Fouqué’s fantasy novel Sintram and his Companions (1908), see Gallery 8E, Figs.8 & 9, and the notes on them.

For an illustrated monograph devoted to Sullivan’s work, see James Thorpe, E.J.Sullivan (1948). Also of great interest is Percy V. Bradshaw, The Art of the Illustrator: E.J. Sullivan and his Work (no date, but c.1920), this being Part 14 of a series of 20 booklets, each devoted to an individual illustrator. What makes this particularly interesting is that Bradshaw commissioned Sullivan to do a Cartoon especially for the booklet, and he included 6 plates showing Sullivan's progress with it, from preliminary sketch, usefully entitled "Life, Death and the Cartoonist", via annotated intermediate stages, to the final polished product. Its symbolism naturally links up with his illustrations both for The Rubaiyat and for Sartor Resartus. The Cartoon can be found in Folder 3 below, though readers who do not share my enthusiasm for Sullivan's work may prefer to jump to Gallery 2B, on Gordon Ross, below.

Folder 3: Sullivan's French Revolution & Other Work.

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Another work which gave Sullivan much symbolic elbow-room, and led to illustrations relating to those featuring in both The Rubaiyat and Sartor Resartus, was also by Thomas Carlyle - his book The French Revolution. It had first been published in 1837 and is still regarded as a classic today. The edition illustrated by Sullivan was published by Chapman & Hall in two volumes in 1910. In this Folder I include ten of the illustrations by way of a cross-section. Mostly I give just Sullivan's own titles and subtitles, as these generally suffice to explain the contents, though occasionally I have added brief notes to explain (or try to!) some of the more puzzling elements, along with cross-references to his illustrations for The Rubaiyat.

Fig.1: vol.1, facing p.70 - "Le Roi s'amuse (Louis XV and Mme. Dubarry.)"

Fig.2: vol.1, facing p.154 - "The Sword of Damocles (Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.)"

Fig.3: vol.1, facing p.182 - "Above the Abyss."

Fig.4: vol.1, facing p.350 - "Constitution Building and the Unlucky Feather", with the subtitle, "Abbé Sieyès, the Three Estates and the Mischief." By way of explanation, the Three Estates (the three figures to the right of the stack of cards) were, right to left, the Clergy (the First Estate), the Aristocracy (the Second Estate) and the People (the Third Estate.) Abbé Sieyès (on the left of the stack of cards) had written a sort of "power to the people" pamphlet in 1789 and was involved in the Constitution Building at the start of the Revolution. Mischief, dressed as a Pierrot, is under the table, waving a peacock feather (considered unlucky, as its markings have associations with the Evil Eye.) The Mischief presumably represents the unrest stirred up by the activities of the Orléaniste conspirators and others who, via incitement, the spreading of false rumours and the use of blatant lies, brought about the collapse of any proposed Constitution - the stack of cards. However, I am not sure why Sullivan used a Pierrot figure in particular here, unless he intended to represent the tragi-comic(?) ease with which the mob could be stirred up.

Fig.5: vol.1, facing p.376 - "Folly v. Fate." Here the French Revolution is represented as a game of chess - see the notes on verse 49 and the illustrations in Gallery 8H ( Fig.3 & Fig.4.)

Fig.6: vol.2, facing p.44 - "The Advancing Terror." This invites comparison with Walter Crane's painting "The Mower" - see Gallery 3D, Fig.3.

Fig.7: vol.2, facing p.92 - Untitled, but by the list of illustrations at the front of vol.2, its title should be "Democracy Enthroned." The image is presumably based on the Hydra. Note the serpent-head on the left, wearing a crown!

Fig.8: vol.2, facing p.124 - "The Reign of Terror."

Fig.9: vol.2, facing p.342 - "Phoenix Death-Birth", with the subtitle "The French Army, as Bellona, is consumed, and Napoleon arises from the Ashes." This signifies the rise of Napoleon to power in the wake of the French Revolution, of course. Bellona was the Roman Goddess of War.

Fig.10: vol.2, facing p.438 - "La Mort est morte - vive la vie!."

By way of a sample of Sullivan's other work - or rather, the more curious aspects of it, for much of his work, even in The French Revolution, was factual illustration and portraiture - I here give five examples.

Fig.11: From his illustrated edition of Tennyson's Maud (1922), facing p.90. This illustrates II.V.1: "Dead, long dead,/ Long dead!/ .../ Only a yard beneath the street,/ And the hoofs of the horses beat, beat..."

Fig.12: From his illustrated edition of Tennyson's A Dream of Fair Women & Other Poems (1900), p.107. This illustrates a verse from "The Vision of Sin" - namely, "Lo! God's likeness - the ground plan -/ Neither modell'd, glazed, nor framed..."

Fig.13: Source as Fig.12, p.187, illustrating two verses from "The Palace of Art", in particular the lines, "But in dark corners of her palace stood/ Uncertain shapes.../ And horrible nightmares."

Fig.14: From his illustrated edition of George Outram's Legal & Other Lyrics (1916), facing p.102. The caption is from the first verse of the poem "Lady! Thine Eye is Bright", which reads thus:

"Lady! thine eye is bright -
Boast of it well,
While youth and delight
In its airy beam dwell:
Fast comes the hour
When its light must away -
Portent the power
That bids beauty decay."

This recalls "Youth's sweet-scented Manuscript" of FitzGerald's v.72, of course. I presume that "portent" in the penultimate line should read "potent".

Fig.15: "Life, Death & the Cartoonist", this being the work, mentioned earlier, commissioned for Percy V. Bradshaw's booklet, E.J. Sullivan and his Work (The Art of the Illustrator, Part 14, of c.1920.) Readers who have followed me this far, through The Rubaiyat, Sartor Resartus, The French Revolution, and his other illustrated works, will readily recognise many of Sullivan's favourite symbols - the scythe and the hour-glass, the skeletal figure (with a mortar board, which was originally to have been a top-hat), the naked girl with the mirror, the judge's wig, the military helmet and sword; but here also we have references to the Arts - Music (the guitar), Drama (the Mask of Comedy, provocatively hung over a Crucifix), Sculpture (the Venus de Milo and the Discus Thrower), and, of course, graphic illustration - the naked girl is here seemingly an artist's model (she sits on a bench labelled "PORTFOLIO", with a pile of coins beside her) and the artist at the easel is Sullivan himself, as reference to his photograph in Fig.16 (also from Bradshaw's booklet) readily shows. The chart entitled "The System of Man" clearly has a double meaning here, presumably signifying the anatomy of Life, whilst in the bottom right hand corner - almost lost in a clutter of objects - we have a Chess piece (denoting, perhaps, the Game of Life), with dice and playing cards (presumably denoting the role of Chance in Life.) Note also the Crown (Power ?) and the Omarian bottle of wine, with a glass! Finally, the grotesque Buddha-like figure is a Billiken - what we would now call a novelty toy /figure, the creation of one Florence Pretz in about 1908, it is said as the result of a dream. It became a world-wide fad for a few years, becoming associated with lucky charms and mascots, before fading away into obscurity, as all such novelties do.

Gallery 2B – Gordon Ross.

Folder 1: Ross' Rubaiyat.

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Ross, like Sullivan, was one of very few artists who, in a book first published in 1941, illustrated all 75 verses of FitzGerald’s first edition. As with Sullivan, some of the illustrations are more interesting than others, and the ones featured here in Folder 1 are chosen to illustrate a variety of points raised in this essay.

As with the illustrators featured in Gallery 1C, some of Ross’s illustrations feature naked women for no apparent reason – see Figs. 1, 5, 6, 7 and 14. Fig.6 (verse 40) is another example of the Daughter of the Vine being depicted as a naked young woman, in contrast to Old Barren Reason. Fig.14 (verse 70) uses a topless young woman to illustrate “Spring…rose in hand”, coming to wreck Omar’s repentance.

Typically, Ross depicts Omar’s Beloved as a woman – she is there in Fig.2 (verse 11), and in the illustrations to verses 26, 37, 38 and 74 (not illustrated here.)

Ross, like Sullivan, was also one of those artists who very effectively illustrated the “Kuza-Nama” (“The Book of Pots”.) Fig.10 (verse 59) illustrates "that old Potter's Shop"; Fig.11 (verse 60) illustrates the more impatient Pot who cried, “Who is the Potter, pray, and who the Pot?”; Fig.12 (verse 63) is Ross’s version of “a Vessel of a more ungainly Make”; and Fig.13 (verse 64) depicts the “surly Tapster”, depicted as a black hellish-demon.

Some of Ross’s drawings are interesting for the little details that emerge as you go over them.

Fig.3 (verse 24) depicts the “Muezzin from the Tower of Darkness” as an Angel of Death wielding a huge scythe. The scythe appears again in Fig.4 (verse 34), neatly illustrating the words “While you live, Drink! – for once dead you never shall return.” For the symbol of the Scythe in relation to Time and Death, see “A Note on the Scythe of Time” in Appendix 14c.

Fig.8 (verse 44) is an interesting illustration of “the mighty Mahmud” scattering and slaying the “black Horde of Fears and Sorrows that infest the Soul”.

Fig.9 (verse 58) is a fairly typical view of a naked Eve (rather in the style of a pin-up!) picking the fruit from the tree with a grinning Snake looking on.

Folder 2: Ross' Other Work.

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Ross is one of a number of Rubaiyat illustrators for whom little biographical information seems to be available, and such information as I have been able to discover about him can be found in Appendix 20e. Folder 2 contains illustrations relevant to that Appendix, as follows:

Fig.1 is the frontispiece of Jennie Day Haines’ book Sovereign Women versus Mere Man (1905), of interest here for the comparison of its symbolism with that of Fig.2 below.

Fig.2 is the front cover of Edmund Vance Cooke’s Impertinent Poems (1907), which shows a worried Jester holding a statue of Atlas with the World on his shoulders. The message here is surely that a Jester (the Cosmic Joker?) seems to rule the world, just as it is Woman who rules the world in Fig.1. The expression on the Jester’s face seems to suggest that he is both saddened and puzzled by what is going on in the World on which he is looking down. Note the Hour-glass of Time to the lower right and the (sleeping?) Owl (of Wisdom?) to the lower left! As we shall see, the Jester theme continues in other illustrations – the book’s theme, after all, is that life is mostly lived on a rather  petty, superficial and frequently silly level, subject to such ignoble emotions as envy, jealousy, vanity, greed and ambition. Dame Gossip, Counterfeit Kisses and Mr & Mrs Thief all appear in the poems (pp.51, 60, 72 respectively.) As Cooke writes in his poem “There is, oh, so much” (p.101-2):

But sometimes we look at our little ball
Where the smallest is great and the greatest small
And wonder the why and the what of it all
In nineteen hundred and now.

In Fig.3 and Fig.4 the Jester wears the traditional coxcomb crest – in the first as a Child holding a mirror of Vanity; in the second as a Ploughman in a field of overgrown weeds (cf Holbein’s “Death and the Husbandman” in Gallery 8B, Fig.6). As with Ross’s Rubaiyat illustrations, there are a number of interesting little details which emerge as one goes over these pictures. In Fig.3 the Child sits on a Toadstool, like a mischievous Pixie, and holds a bow and arrow – possibly in imitation of Cupid (hence the black hearts?)  Note too, on the horizon to the left of the Child, the tiny silhouetted figure of the ploughing Jester of Fig.4. Finally, both Figs. 3 & 4 have windmills in the background, perhaps just decorative, but more likely, I suspect, in reference to Don Quixote’s famous tilting at windmills.

The mirror of Vanity appears again in Fig.5. Note that the reflection in the mirror wears a Jester’s hat!

Fig.6 (one of several black and white illustrations) is rather more Omarian, and shows Father Time, with his Scythe, giving the World a good kick. Time’s Scythe, of course, appears in some of Ross’s illustrations to The Rubaiyat (Folder 1: Fig.3 & Folder 1, Fig.4.) Father Time appears again in Fig.7, this time with an Hourglass rather than a Scythe. Note, too, the clear presence of Time’s Forelock, a traditional symbol (see the note at the end of Appendix 14b), as opposed to Ross’s own neat symbolic additions – the Spider’s Web on the sleepy Knight’s armour and the Tortoise to the lower left! For the various symbols and attributes of Time, see Gallery 8D and the commentary on it; also Appendix 14c.

Fig.8 is also Omarian in that it shows a Peasant-like figure and a King, weighed down by their respective burdens, recalling Omar’s Slave and Sultan (verse 10.) This, like Fig.4, invites some comparison with Holbein. Note again that the Peasant has the attributes of a Jester.

Before leaving Cooke’s odd little book, I cannot resist quoting the opening lines of his poem “The World runs on” (p.49), as Omar would undoubtedly have approved of them:

So many good people find fault with God,
Tho’ admitting He’s doing the best He can,
But still they consider it somewhat odd
That He doesn’t consult them concerning his plan.

Figs. 9, 10 & 11 are from Frederic Arnold Kummer’s satirical novel Ladies in Hades (1928).

Fig.9 shows Eve, with the traditional Serpent and Apple (cf. Folder 1, Fig.9).

Fig.10 shows Lilith, whom Eve mentions in her account of what really happened in the Garden of Eden (for Lilith, see Gallery 3I & commentary on it).

Fig.11 shows Satan (cf. Folder 1, Fig.13.) Satan – or at least, his head – appears also in Fig.12 – another illustration from Impertinent Poems, again relating to Vanity.

Gallery 2C – Omar’s Beloved.

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In Chapter 14 of the main essay, FitzGerald’s latent homosexuality was given as a possible reason why there is no indication in his Rubaiyat that Omar’s Beloved was a woman, and indeed, in FitzGerald’s Latin versions of some of the verses, his Beloved is addressed as “dilecte mi” (masculine) as opposed to “dilecta mea” (feminine). Of course, FitzGerald’s possibly homosexual preferences might not have been shared by Omar, and indeed, as we have seen in the body of this essay and in the notes on verse 11, for example, the original verses provide ample evidence that Omar was partial to a bit of female houri-shaped company! At any rate, illustrators of The Rubaiyat have unanimously taken Omar’s Beloved to be female. This Gallery gives a sumptuous display of such illustrations as typified by the work of René Bull, Edmund Dulac, Gilbert James and Akbar Tajvidi – the last being included to show that the Western heterosexual view of things is shared, and with gusto, in Iran. Indeed, it is amusing that Dulac (Fig.6) has even made “an Angel Shape/ Bearing a Vessel on his Shoulder” (verse 42) into a woman! (Willy Pogany did the same – see Gallery 1C, Folder 3, Fig.1.)

The Bull, James and Tajvidi illustrations all relate to FitzGerald’s first edition; the Dulac illustrations to the second edition. Thus, in the case of Fig.6, “Dulac, v.60 (2)” means Dulac’s illustration to verse 60 of the second edition (this being verse 42 of the first edition.)

All four artists have illustrated the famous verse 11 (v.12 in the 2nd edition), with its Flask of Wine, its Book of Verse, and “Thou beside me singing in the Wilderness” – the “thou” being depicted as female. Tajvidi, however, seems to have opted for the leg of mutton of the original verses, rather than FitzGerald’s loaf of bread, and James seems to have omitted the Book of Verse! (Figs. 1, 4, 8 & 13 - browse here.) [For Willy Pogany’s illustration of this verse, see Gallery 1C, Folder 3, Fig.7.]

Bull has Omar’s “Love” of verse 73 and “Moon of my Delight of verse 74 as a woman (Figs. 2 & 3); Tajvidi likewise with verse 74 (Fig.16) - browse here. (At this point one wonders if a man would ever call another man “Moon of my Delight”, but then I suppose one shouldn’t prejudge these things from a heterosexual viewpoint!) Incidentally, in the second edition (verse 109), FitzGerald changed “Moon of my Delight” to “Sweet-heart.” Omar’s “Love” and “Moon of my Delight” reappears as the “Thyself” who is to turn down an empty glass in verse 75 (= v.110 in the 2nd edition.) Dulac’s illustration of this verse is shown in Fig.7 (a woman again, needless to say.)

Dulac’s illustration to verse 55 of the 2nd edition (which has no precursor in the 1st) depicts Omar running his fingers through the hair of a female “Cypress-slender Minister of Wine.” (Fig.5)

In Figs. 9-12, illustrating verses, 12, 37, 48 & 72 of the 1st edition respectively, James is illustrating the idea that for (his vision of) Omar, heterosexual love is very much a part of living for today - browse here.

In Fig. 14 Tajvidi illustrates verse 37 (“Ah, fill the Cup”), with the filled Cup being held by Omar, who is in the embrace of a young woman. In Fig. 15, “the Lip you press” of verse 47 is a very feminine lip.

Fig.17, by an unnamed artist, is included here as a rather neat encapsulation of the popular heterosexual view of verse 11. It is the cover of The Rubaiyat as #1 in the Ten Cent Pocket Series, published under the banner of the so-called Little-Blue-Books, in Girard, Kansas, and is apparently one of the 1950s reprints of an earlier publication of theirs. It uses FitzGerald’s 5th edition, with his Introduction, and contains a copy of Clarence Darrow’s essay, “A Persian Pearl”.

See also the illustrations by Sullivan and Ross in Gallery 2A, Folder 1 and Gallery 2B, Folder 1, and, of course, the very firmly heterosexual illustrations of Gallery 1C.

Gallery 2D – Oriental Illustrations.

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Akbar Tajvidi is only one oriental artist who takes a heterosexual view of Omar and his Beloved. In fact, the heterosexual view – which, as we have seen, is not pure assumption, and is not merely the product of a majority heterosexual outlook – seems to prevail world-wide. The following were gathered with ease from the Internet.

Figs 1-3 are Omar-related posters or paintings being offered for sale, at the time of writing, on the internet by Dolls of India (; Figs. 4 – 6 likewise from the Punjabi popular culture website

Fig.7 is from the Russian edition of the quatrains of Omar Khayyam translated by I.A.Golubev with 18 illustrations by V.N. Belousov, published in 2007, for which see:

Fig.8 is interesting because it brings us back from the east to the west. It is a poster entitled “The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam” by the American artist Carl Purcell, and is painted very much in eastern style (compare, in particular, the style of Vinod Bharadwaj in Gallery 1C, Folder 8, but without the erotic element.) For details see

Gallery 2E – Mera K. Sett.

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As outlined in Appendix 17a, there are two editions of Sett’s Omar Khayyam.

The earlier book version was privately published through Galloway & Porter of Cambridge in 1914. It consists of a 4 page Foreword by Sett, followed by an elaborate hand-crafted title page (Fig.1), a 15-page illustrated manuscript version of FitzGerald’s first edition (Fig.2 & Fig.3 are sample pages), and finally, 15 drawings, each of which relates to a specific verse (Figs.4 & 5 are the first two of them.) All pages are printed on one side only, and relevant verse for each of the drawings is printed on its tissue guard. In his Forward Sett gave a brief explanation of each of these “very symbolic” drawings. Thus, as regards Fig.4, which refers to verse 3, he writes:

“The flagon is the artistic signboard of the East and proclaims the tavern with its joys of music and the fair Sakki (cup bearer.) The tavern of the East bears no resemblance to the familiar English ‘pub’. The fanatical Arabs took possession of the beautiful fire temples of the unfortunate, vanquished Persians and turned them into temples of Bacchus. And yet, why not? The God of Wine is more merciful than the supposed merciful Father.” (p.3)

And as regards Fig.5, which refers to verse 7, he writes:

“The Persians think that the wine improves when poured out by a beautiful boy. A generous poet once gave away Samarkhand and Bokhara in exchange for the mole on the cheek of his beloved Sakki.” (p.3)

It is a matter of opinion as to how useful some of these explanations are, but at least they are there for the taking. Sett gave no explanation at all of the drawings that accompanied the hand-written verses, so that in the case of Fig.2 we are left wondering who the naked girl is, and in the case of Fig.3 we are left wondering as to the relevance of what seems to be the figure of Death carrying off a naked girl (Death & the Maiden?) and, below, the heap of corpses (?) attended by vultures and jackals (?)

The later post Second World War ‘folio’ edition, published by D.B. Tarporevala of Bombay, contained a 12 page stapled booklet which replaced the Foreword of the book edition with a new Introduction. The first part of the Foreword, which had contained Sett’s views on other illustrated editions of The Rubaiyat and his Acknowledgements to various friends for their support, was dropped in favour of a tirade against Modern Art (“never has the world of Art fallen to such abysmal depth”) and a paragraph saying that he had been persuaded by his publisher that, despite the way the Art world was going, there was “still a class of discriminating public who still love beauty and who appreciate it.” The second half of the original Foreword – containing his denial that he had in any way been influenced by Beardsley, plus the explanations of his symbolic drawings – was retained, only it was now followed by a printed version of FitzGerald’s first edition, presumably to serve as a guide to those who struggled with his calligraphy. The rest of the book version – the title page, the 15 pages of the verses with illustrative drawings, and the 15 symbolic drawings – were all now printed on 31 unbound cards. The 15 symbolic drawings remained in black and white, with their relevant verses now printed on the back rather than on tissue guards, but the rest – the title page and illustrated verses – were now printed in red and green. Figs. 6, 7 & 8 are the folio edition’s equivalents of Figs. 1, 2 & 3 respectively - browse here.

Sett’s Sculptured Melodies being such a rare book, and Sett himself being so little known, it seems worthwhile to say a little about it here. Privately published through Grant Richards of London in 1922, as stated in Appendix 17, this was a collection of 11 illustrated stories, written by Sett himself, based on or inspired by musical works by various famous composers – 5 by Chopin, and 1 each by Beethoven, Dvorak, Gounod, Rubinstein, Schumann and Tchaikovsky. Fig.9 is the Title Page and Fig.10 the Frontispiece. Fig.11a is the illustration that goes with the story associated with Chopin’s “Prelude, Op.7” (presumably he means Op.28, no.7), and Fig.12 the illustration that goes with the story associated with Chopin’s “Valse Triste”. How are the stories associated with the music? By nothing more than Sett’s own personal whim, it seems, rather than anything the composer himself intended. Sett seems to have listened to the music and let his imagination take him wherever it chose to go. This is most easily seen in the case of Fig.11a, which depicts Salome doing the Dance of the Seven Veils before her step-father, Herod, with the head of John the Baptist hovering in the background (in this it is reminiscent of Gustave Moreau’s painting “The Apparition” of 1876, shown here as Fig.11b, and of which more presently.) The whole scene takes place in front of some curtains which are embroidered with Egyptian hieroglyphs. Now, so far as I know, when Chopin wrote this piece, sometime in the period 1835-1839, he did not have the New Testament story of Salome in mind (for which see Matthew 14:1-12 & Mark 6:14-29.) Indeed, Chopin himself did not give names to his Preludes, and he seems to have left no indication of what inspired them, so the field is wide open for guesswork. I have to say, though, that when I listen to this particular piece of music, it doesn’t seem to fit in at all well with the figure of Salome performing an erotic dance! Not only that, but the story as told in Sculptured Melodies (p.69-71) – with Salome having a sexual interest in John the Baptist, who is beheaded for spurning her advances – seems to be Sett’s own re-telling of the tale as it is depicted in Oscar Wilde’s play Salome, and if so, Chopin can hardly have written this Prelude – or any other – with this version in mind, having died some 40 years before Wilde wrote it! [The genesis of Wilde’s play is of some interest. One of its main sources of inspiration was the description, in chapter 5 of J.K. Huysman’s extraordinary novel A Rebours (1884) – now famous in English under the title Against Nature – of two paintings by Gustave Moreau on the Salome theme – “Salome Dancing Before Herod” and “The Apparition”, both dating from 1876. The second of these has already been mentioned above in connection with Sett’s illustration. Wilde had discovered the novel shortly after its publication, whilst on honeymoon in Paris, and it became something of a ‘Bible and bedside book’ for him. For a good account, see Richard Ellmann, Oscar Wilde (1988), p.252-3, p.339-340 & p.342.]

As for Fig.12, this goes with a story, presumably made up by Sett himself, of an Indian dancing girl whose lover drowns whilst trying to swim to her across a storm-lashed river (p.25-27). The illustration seems to be only loosely associated with the story, let alone with the music, though as is clear from his illustrations for The Rubaiyat, Sett had a penchant for obscure symbolism. At any rate, the naked dancing girl stands before a sundial (time) on a pedestal in the shape of a human skeleton (death), for which type of imagery see Appendix 14.

As regards the peacock-like symbol which appears repeatedly in Sett’s illustrations, in the Foreword to the first edition of his illustrated Rubaiyat (and in the Introduction to the second edition), he wrote:

“I have followed the usage of the East, and have taken to myself a symbol, to sign my pictures with. It is a ‘peacock’, and its neck forms the letter ‘S’, the first letter of my name. It also lends itself to decoration, and like the Japanese artists I place it to balance my pictures.”

Gallery 2F – Anne Harriet Fish & Kay Nielsen.

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Fish is another of those artists who have illustrated The Rubaiyat, and for whom biographical details are in relatively short supply in many of the standard dictionaries of artists and book illustrators. Some information about her can be found in Appendix 20a, which this gallery illustrates. Figs 1 to 5 relate to her illustrated edition of The Rubaiyat (1922), which uses the text of FitzGerald’s first edition, thus:

Fig.1 – verse 7 – The figure is presumably intended to represent the Bird of Time “on the wing”.

Fig.2 – verse 22 – This presumably illustrates the phrase “we that now make merry in the room.”

Fig.3 – verse 48 – The figure is clearly “the Angel with his darker Draught.”

Fig.4 – verse 72 – This presumably relates to “Youth’s sweet scented Manuscript.”

Fig.5 – verse 74 – This clearly illustrates the phrase, “the Moon of Heav’n is rising once again”, the young lady being the “Moon of my Delight.”

In Appendix 20, mention is made of the similarity of the cartoon-style of Fish’s Rubaiyat illustrations and, on the one hand, her cover illustrations for the likes of Vanity Fair, and on the other, the satirical cartoons for which she became so famous, most notably those of the three “Eve” books. Some examples are shown here:

Fig.6 – The cover for Vanity Fair, September 1923. Compare Figs 2 & 4.

Fig.7 – Page 18 from The First Book of Eve (1916).

Fig.8 – Page 42 from The First Book of Eve (1916).

Fig.9 – Page 31 from Awful Weekends – and Guests (1938).

Fig.10 – Page 81 from Awful Weekends – and Guests (1938).

As mentioned in Appendix 20a, one does wonder if Fish’s Rubaiyat illustrations have any element of veiled satirical comment on the era in which she lived, most particularly its “high society”, though I am not aware of any documentary evidence of this, so it may well be that she used her cartoon style to different ends in different contexts. Equally, though, one wonders why the publisher of this edition of The Rubaiyat (John Lane, The Bodley Head Ltd) chose an artist who was most famous for her cartoons to illustrate it. [She had illustrated books for Lane previously – notably Stephen Leacock’s Behind the Beyond (1913), which went through several editions, and Mrs John Lane’s War Phases according to Maria (1917). But these, like the Eve books which Lane also published, were humorous, as were his later social-commentary publications by Lady Kitty Vincent, Lipstick (1925), Sugar and Spice (1926) and Gin and Ginger (1927).]

Fish’s Rubaiyat illustrations bear some comparison with illustrations by her Danish-American contemporary, Kay Nielsen (1886-1957), particularly those he did for an unpublished edition of A Thousand and One Nights [fortunately preserved for us in The Unknown Paintings of Kay Nielsen, edited by David Larkin, with an Elegy by Hildegarde Flanner (1977).] Three examples are shown here:

Fig.11 – The Sultan and Sheherazade.

Fig.12 – The Tale of the First Dervish.

Fig.13 – The Tale of the Third Dervish.

Nielsen is one of those artists of whom, like Beardsley and Crane, one wishes they had produced an illustrated edition of The Rubaiyat. In actual fact, he did start one, but, like his edition of A Thousand and One Nights, it was never published. Unfortunately, the only illustration for it which has survived – or at least, the only one of which I am aware – was published in the Art Journal The Studio, vol.87 (1924), p.211, with the following commentary relating to it:

“A series of drawings in colour by Kay Nielsen for the illustration of Hans Andersen’s fairy tales and other books, has been lately shown at the Leicester Galleries. The variety and originality of his work made the exhibition exceedingly attractive, but whether the kind of Oriental fancy by which his work is usually distinguished is suited to such subjects as are to be found in Hans Andersen’s stories is open to question; however it was very appropriately displayed in his illustrations for the ‘Arabian Nights’ and the ‘Rubaiyat’ of Omar Khayyam – these were, on the whole, the best things in the collection.” (p.209)

The (black and white) illustration is reproduced here as Fig.14, and relates to verse 23 of the first edition (“Ah, make the most of what we may yet spend”.) In addition, we are fortunate that there is a copy of the exhibition catalogue preserved at the National Art Library in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London: Catalogue of an Exhibition of Drawings in Colour illustrating “Hans Anderson’s fairy tales”, and other subjects by Kay Nielsen (Leicester Galleries Exhibition no.366, Feb-Mar 1924.) This tells that there were, in total, five Rubaiyat pictures in the exhibition, illustrating verses 1, 23, 32, 62 and 74 of the first edition. Unfortunately none of the pictures is illustrated in the catalogue, and it is not stated how many others, if any, Nielsen had done besides the five in the exhibition. [This catalogue being an extremely rare item, a scan of the relevant page is shown here as Fig.15, courtesy of the National Art Library. Note that the verses corresponding to the catalogue numbers 39, 40, 41, 42 & 43 are, respectively, 1, 32, 23, 62 & 74 – slightly out of numerical order.]

Keith Nicholson, in the introduction to his book Kay Nielsen (1975), also refers to the 1924 exhibition of Nielsen’s work in London, thus:

“Nielsen returned to London for the publication of his edition of Hans Andersen in 1924 and the exhibition was held in February. The collection also included set designs for Aladdin and Scaramouche as well as a series of illustrations for The Arabian Nights and The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (alas never published.)”

Unfortunately Nicholson doesn’t say why Nielsen’s Rubaiyat was never published, who the prospective publisher was, or what happened to the pictures following the collapse of publication plans. Presumably they were returned to Nielsen at some stage, as we know The Arabian Nights pictures were, for these were eventually given by Nielsen’s wife to Hildegarde Flanner and her husband, Frederick Monhoff – hence the book The Unknown Paintings of Kay Nielsen, mentioned above. The fate of The Rubaiyat pictures, though, is not clear.

Incidentally, some of Nielsen’s paintings for the Arabian Nights have at last been published with the stories to which they relate. In 2003 the Folio Society published an edition in 6 volumes of The Arabian Nights, using the translations of J.G.Mardrus and Powys Mathers (mentioned in note 48a to the main essay.) Nielsen’s paintings are used to illustrate volume 1.

Gallery 2G – Mohammad Tajvidi

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As stated in Appendix 20f, Mohammad Tajvidi illustrated several editions of The Rubaiyat. This Gallery reproduces, from cover to cover, what I call a “Christmas Rubaiyat.”  This was effectively a sampler of 10 of FitzGerald’s verses, with their equivalents in French, German, Persian and Arabic, each illustrated by a Tajvidi miniature. It was published in a spiral-bound format by H. Kashani of Teheran, with a front cover sending “Greetings and best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.” Unfortunately, it is undated.

The similarity in style of the illustrations to those of his brother Akbar (Gallery 1C, Folder 7) is immediately apparent – even down to the mild eroticism of some of them, and the heterosexual view of Omar’s Beloved.

Gallery 2H – Parodies and Imitations

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Many students of The Rubaiyat have a soft spot for the parodies of it, and the illustrations for some of these deserve as much attention as the verses themselves. This Gallery gives a representative selection. We start with a few that relate to the famous Book of Verses underneath the Bough (Figs. 1 – 5):

Fig.1: From The Rubaiyat of Ohow Dryyam by J.L.Duff; illustrated by Benjamin Franklin (“Not of Philadelphia”), San Francisco 1922, verse 6:

A Book of Blue Laws underneath the Bough,
A pot of Tea, a piece of Toast – and Thou
Beside me sighing in the wilderness –
Wilderness? It’s Desert, Sister, now.

Blue Laws are laws relating to the prohibition of alcohol. [The Prohibition Era lasted from 1920 to 1933, during which period it was illegal in America to sell, produce or transport alcohol, though, oddly enough, it was not illegal to drink it!]

The opening verse of Duff’s parody is quoted in chapter 4 of the main essay.

Fig.2: From The Social Rubaiyat of a Bud by Mrs Ambrose Madison Willis, illustrated and decorated by Elsie A. Harrison, San Francisco 1913, verse 33 (quoted underneath figure)

A rustic Settle underneath the Bough,
A faultless Gown, becoming Hat, and Thou,
A Millionaire on Marriage bent beside –
Ah, Paradise were at a Discount now!

Fig.3: From The Rubaiyat of Bridge by Carolyn Wells, illustrated by May Wilson Preston, New York & London 1919, verses and pages unnumbered:

A Book of Bridge Rules underneath the Bough,
A Score Card, Two new Packs of Cards, and Thou
With Two Good Players sitting opposite,
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!

Fig.4: The frontispiece from The Rubaiyat of a Golfer by J.A.Hammerton with illustrations by D.L. Ghilchik, Country Life, London 1946. Though no verse goes with this, the illustration clearly shows the loaf of bread and jug of wine beneath the bough, with the book of verse replaced by a set of golf clubs.

Fig.5:  From The Rubaiyat of Omar Ki-Yi and Other Waggish Rhymes by Burges Johnson, illustrated by Morgan Dennis, New York 1938, verse 22 (quoted underneath the figure):

A merry romp, then rest beneath a bough;
A bone – and beetles in the grass – and thou
Beside me, snapping lazily at flies,
O that for me were paradise enow!

There are quite a number of animal Rubaiyats, of course, the best known being The Rubaiyat of a Persian Kitten, by Oliver Herford, illustrated by the author, London 1906; and The Rubaiyat of a Scotch Terrier, by Sewell Collins, illustrated by the author, London 1926.

Moving now to some illustrations of the parodies of other verses:

Fig.6: From The Rubaiyat of Omar, M.P. by W.Hodgson Burnet, illustrated by T.C.Black, London 1921 verse 24 & verse 27 (quoted underneath their respective figures):

Ah! make the most of what we yet may spend
Before we to the House of Peers ascend,
To peer at Peers and next to Peers to sit,
Sans Power, sans Press, sans Public and – sans end!


Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Full Dress Debates in our great Parliament,
But everything I heard I must confess
Came out by the same ear wherein it went.

Fig.7 and Fig.8: From Rubaiyat of a Motor Car by Carolyn Wells, illustrated by Frederick Strothmann, New York 1906, verses and pages unnumbered, but facing their respective illustrations:

Ah, my Beloved, fill the Lamps that shed
A steady Searchlight on our Path ahead;
Tomorrow! – Why, To-morrow I may be
Myself with Yesterday’s Seven Thousand Dead.

And a verse which shows that fashionable motoring accessories were as much of a ‘must’ then, in the early days of motoring, as they are now:

I had to have a Snakeskin Auto-Coat,
A Leather Foot-Muff, lined with Thibet Goat;
A Steering-Apron, and a Sleeping-Bag;
For these things Help a Motorer to Mote.

Figs. 9 & 10:  From The Rubaiyat of a Bachelor by Helen Rowland, with decorations by Harold Speakman, New York 1915.  Fig.9 illustrates the verse on p.67:

What! Would you cast a loving woman hence?
Thou, Fickle One, prepare for penitence!
Full many a golden ducat shall you pay
To drown the memory of such insolence.

Fig.10 shows pages 74-5, with their neat page decorations involving what look to be the modern Adam and Eve (judging by the snake with the latter!) These same page decorations are used with other verses as well.

Figs.11 & 12: From The Rubaiyat of William the War-Lord, by St. John Hamund, with decorations by Scott Calder, London 1915. Fig.11 shows the front cover of the book. It depicts the Kaiser sitting, Omar-like, beneath a Vine, wearing a Turkish fez and with a hookah on his right (in reference to his alliance with Turkey.) He holds an olive branch (?) in one hand and a sword-cum-pen with which he is writing (history?) in the other. Fig.12 shows verses 11 and 12:

Louvain and Rheims, I know, Termonde as well,
Have stamped me as a ruthless infidel.
I often wonder if the truth can be
One half so ghastly as the tales they tell!

A hair perhaps divides the false and true;
But what on Earth with truth have I to do?
I tell the tale – a specious one, at that,
And peradventure they believe it too!

The page decoration shows a devil with a flaming brand riding on a wild boar, presumably a parody of Freyr’s Boar, but also, since the verses on this page relate to the duplicity of the Kaiser, and since there seems to be a cloud beneath boar, with the additional implication that “pigs might fly.”

Figs.13 & 14: From The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam Junior, by Wallace Irwin, illustrated by Gelett Burgess, San Francisco 1902. Fig.13 shows the title page and frontispiece of the book, the caption “I wear Tobacchanalian Wreaths of Smoke”, a line from verse 2, proclaiming the nature of this Smoker’s Rubaiyat. Fig.14 shows verses 60-63, the caption of the facing illustration being from verse 63. Note Nicotine as the Tenth Muse in verse 61! Irwin’s introduction to his poem is itself a gem. He tells us, with tongue lodged firmly in cheek, that following his father’s death, Omar Khayyam Jr had been driven out of Naishapur by a fanatical sect of Sufi women. He eventually ended up in Borneo, where he wrote his Rubaiyat. Unlike his father’s verses, though, Omar Junior’s advocated the joys of tobacco rather than those of wine (as in verse 61 in Fig.14) and he laid more stress on kissing women than ever his father did. (verse 63 in Fig.14 is an example.) “It may be truly said,” Irwin notes, “that the Father left the discovery of Woman to his Son, for nowhere in the Rubaiyat of Naishapur’s Poet is full justice done to the charms of the Fair.” Clearly, though, Omar’s experiences of fanatical Sufi women left him somewhat soured – hence lines like “She loves you, yes, / In just Proportion to the Sum you Earn.”(v.17). Irwin does a wonderful parody of Omar Senior’s Potter’s Shop, in the form of Omar Junior’s Tobacconist’s (verses 82-90). Here is a sample verse (v.87):

Then spake a Panatella finely rolled,
“If to a fiery Doom I must be sold,
Then let it be my happy Fate to find
A high-born Mouth whose Teeth are filled with Gold.”

Figs.15-17: Staying with the Tobacchanalian theme of the foregoing, Fig. 15 & 16 are from The Rubaiyat of Omar Cigarettes, an early advertising gimmick for the “Omar” brand of Turkish cigarettes, which seem to have been manufactured from about 1902 up to the 1960s. Fig.15 shows the title page and frontispiece of this little book, which, in the format of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat, recounts twenty nine illustrated adventures of Omar, all of which, in one way or another – and not surprisingly! – involve Omar cigarettes. Fig.16 shows Adventure Four with its accompanying illustration, by way of an example. No author is given for the book, so one presumes that a number of people from an advertising team were involved. No artist is credited either, though the frontispiece seems to be signed “J. Miller”. The book is undated, but related magazine advertisements for the cigarettes seem to occur between about 1910 and 1915 – Fig.17 is an example, from Cosmopolitan Magazine, June 1914.

Figs.18 & 19: From Omar Khayyam Revisited by Hakim Yama Khayyam (the pseudonym of Joachim Yama Hurst), with illustrations by David Stone Martin, New Jersey, 1974. This is not a parody, but, as the author tells us in his preface:

“With apologies to Mr Edward Fitzgerald (sic), who did the original English translation of The Rubaiyat in 1859, I am rewriting some of Mr Khayyam’s verses the way he would write them, were he alive and living in our society today.”

Actually, many of FitzGerald’s verses are left untouched, and where they have been updated, the emphasis seems to be on cannabis – hence “sans pot, sans song, sans singer and sans end” (v.5) and “Ah my beloved fill the pipe that clears / Today of past regrets and future fears” (v.6.). We are also urged to “pity Sultan Nixon on his throne” in verse 11. Two examples of verses with their accompanying illustrations are shown here. In Fig.18, the verse replaces “this Juice” and “twisted tendril” of verse 61 of FitzGerald’s 5th edition with “this weed” and “tender leaflets”, whilst the illustration – in addition to the unaccountably naked girl – shows a cannabis plant growing out what could well be a wine jug. In Fig.19, the verse replaces “the Grape” of verse 59 of FitzGerald’s 5th edition with “the hemp”, whilst the illustration seems to represent “the Two-and-Seventy jarring sects” by two rampaging bulls.

Fig.20: The cover of Rose Roy’s Rubaiyat of the Rose (1941), as described in Appendix 12i.

Fig.21: From Rubaiyat of Doc Sifers by James Whitcomb Riley, illustrated by C.M. Relyea, New York 1897. Riley was a hugely popular American dialect poet in his day. The illustration presumably shows the appreciative women of verse 10, with the philanthropic Doc Sifers in the background, being nuzzled by the horse of verse 11.

Fig.22: From The Rubaiyat of Mirza-Mem’n, by John Stevens Zimmerman (unnamed in the book, but Mirza-Memn is an anagram of Zimmerman), illustrated by H.O.Shepard (also the publisher of the book), Chicago 1901. This curious but nicely produced book is dedicated to “those Genuine High-Priests in the Temple of Nature, whose earnest and unselfish labors alone have made it possible for mankind to differentiate, develop and improve.” Fig.22 illustrates his verse 37:

The tawny Lion roars, and Jackals creep
In Nimrod’s palace, now a tumbled heap
Of shapeless shards. He is oblivious,
Plunged in an everlasting, dreamless sleep.

This, like about a quarter of the verses in the book, is, as the author explains in his Explanatory Note at the front of the book, “more or less literally paraphrased from McCarthy’s elegant prose translation of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam”, though this one appears to be very loosely based on McCarthy (his verse 151.) Why the author signs his explanatory note “Zero” is a mystery. I have been unable to find out anything about Zimmerman beyond his pseudonymous authorship of this book.

Figs.23-25: From Rubaiyat by Hossein Ghods-Nakhai, illustrated by Osstad Karimi, The Hague, 1955. Fig.23 illustrates verse 3:

Three sextons, making ready for their Guest,
Plied mattocks merrily with song and jest;
Said one: “How many Princes of the Blood,
Must we take up to give one beggar rest?”

Fig.24 is reproduced with its corresponding verse (v.6), as it appears in the book:

The Universe rejoiced, its anguish fled,
When Jug towards the eager Cup was led.
“I am the clay,” said Jug, “that Bahram was”
“I am the clay,” said Cup, “that Bahram wed.”

Fig.25 is more of an Omarian oddity than either of the foregoing. It illustrates verse 66:

Then I myself found Paradise at last,
Before my vision lovely Angels passed,
And, as I watched, I saw that Angels too
Alike in love’s mould were with passion cast.

Hossein Ghods-Nakhai was an Iranian politician and diplomat with literary leanings. His Rubaiyat seems to have been privately published.