Francesca Tancini (Università di Bologna, Federico Zeri Foundation)

Francesca Tancini has been working on mid- and late-Victorian illustration, particularly focusing on Walter Crane and Edmund Evans. Her research mainly focuses on Crane’s ideographic system and his use of stereotyped visual symbols towards the construction of a universal language. Crane’s work for children, printed in colours by Evans, served as a tool of popular education, while at the same time entering the houses of artists, intellectuals, and politicians. In his illustrations, Crane built up a new visual language in the utopian hope of transforming society. He brushed up religious iconographies applying them to secular subjects, recovered myths and tales modifying them with new connections to modernity, re-elaborated traditional elements by stringing them together in a new language. The proposed system of quotes was entirely based on elements known to his public, used in new contexts as a different communication material. Everything that was part of a people’s culture – myths, legends, religious beliefs, fairy tales, nursery rhymes, literature, traditional iconographies – was sewed together in a new language. She is now compiling a catalogue raisonné of Crane’s published work.

Keywords: Children’s Book Illustration, mid- and late-Victorian painting and illustration, Walter Crane, Edmund Evans, yellow-backs, toybooks, picture-books; printing history and techniques (xylography, lithography, colour-printing, etc.); publishing and book history; history of education; Socialism and social movements; Aestheticism; history of graphic design and advertising; visual studies; art theory and criticism.
Contact: francesca.tancini@unibo.it

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