Mr. Vholes and Richard Carstone

Richard’s high spirits carrying everything before them, we all went out together to the top of the hill above the village, where he had ordered a gig to wait and where we found a man with a lantern standing at the head of the gaunt pale horse that had been harnessed to it.

I never shall forget those two seated side by side in the lantern’s light, Richard all flush and fire and laughter, with the reins in his hand; Mr. Vholes quite still, black-gloved, and buttoned up, looking at him as if he were looking at his prey and charming it. I have before me the whole picture of the warm dark night, the summer lightning, the dusty track of road closed in by hedgerows and high trees, the gaunt pale horse with his ears pricked up, and the driving away at speed to Jarndyce and Jarndyce.

Sketches and comments

Okay, I admit I’ve been dreading posting this image! The image itself had been locked in my imagination for some time, so I got busy with it. One visual that cemented itself early on was the image of Vholes’s perfectly white tented fingers over his perfectly black suit. I loved it so much! Once the image is created, why go back to the text?

Why indeed? As you can see I did some research on horse bridles, blinders and reins. It may not pass muster to a horse expert, but I wanted it all to “read” to the viewer. Likewise the horse itself. Oddly, I did remember the “pale, gaunt” horse and did my best to suggest a fairly rickety horse, given the forced perspective. I also did some research and sketching of one-horse gigs and their construction.

With all that, I did have trouble with the horse blinder and its perspective, with the result that this is one of only a couple of linocuts that I have had to redo completely from scratch, an enormously onerous process. I was almost done with the first version but I got careless with the perspective of the blinder, and as I’ve stated before, there is NO correcting errors in linoleum cutting. So I proceeded to redo the entire image, once again never referencing the text, and so what should have been Vholes’s black gloved hands has become a great anomaly in my project. I’ve chosen to leave it because I still like the image!

All in all I’m pleased with my interpretation of both characters here, and even the horse, though I took some real liberties with both horse and harness, works sufficiently well for the composition.

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Author: mooney2021

I am a commercial artist and illustrator from New York and now retired. I'm also a longtime Charles Dickens fan and I've embarked on a project to illustrate his great BLEAK HOUSE.

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