March 20, 2023

Animals #AtoZChallenge

         Welcome to the April A to Z Blog Challenge!  My theme this year is Relief Printed Alphabet Squared, an alphabet of alphabets illustrated with relief block prints.  As usual, I’m starting early, but you can find out more about the A to Z Challenge here and see what varied and interesting themes other bloggers will be exploring this year.
        Without further ado, we’ll start with An Alphabet of Animals, a little paperback book published in 1865 and billed as being by “A Lady,” with no attribution for the illustrator of the wood engravings.  Given common practices at the time, it’s entirely possible that the 
illustrations were reused from unrelated blocks the publisher already owned from past projects, so they could well be done by all different more-or-less anonymous artists.  A is for Ape in this alphabet, and it’s a pleasing enough depiction, if nothing too exciting.  I like how cheerful this ape looks.  My favorite letter from this alphabet is the frog of F, which has lots of attractive detail.  I’ve also included the entire verse for the frog because it’s a nice one.
        Today’s second alphabet is also animals.  This one is by illustrator Andrew Wightman.  His linoleum block A is Albatross, and it shows the clean, clear, bold style shared by all his animals in this series.  My favorite, though, is D’s Dung Beetle, which has a cartoonish charm.  Although most of Wightman’s animals are fairly realistically portrayed, the dung beetle is more anthropomorphized, and is really quite adorable.
        I’ll also share a few bonus alphabets for the letter A, which I’ve mentioned in the past.  Most important is Mary Azarian, who has published two lavishly illustrated wood block alphabets.  Here’s her A for Arbor from A Gardener’s Alphabet, in which she has water-colored her wood block prints.  You can also see the letters G, Q, U, and X from this book in previous posts.  They’re some of my favorites, but today I’ve added J to the list.
        And I love Azarian’s black and white A Farmer’s Alphabet even more.  (The book is black and white, but she's also made watercolored versions of some of its wood block prints.)  From that one I’ve already shared not only A (which is Apple), but B, D, G, H, MX, and Z (Zinnia, probably my favorite).  Be sure to check them out.
        Then there’s the linocut alphabet by Walter Inglis Anderson (USA, 1903-1965).  I’ve written about him before, as well as sharing his letters A (also Apple), D, M, S (my favorite perhaps? Sea), and T.  Plus his B (Butterfly) appears in the title collection in the Theme Reveal post, and his Z will help us close out the A to Z Challenge.
        For a moral today I can’t do better than “A Lady” in her observations on the frog.  Children, let’s not be cruel to any living creatures.  Instead, we need to treat all around us gently.
        And also, the journey of 26 letters starts with a single A.
        So, if you were to select an alphabet of animals, what’s the one favorite animal you would be absolutely sure to include?

[Pictures: Ape, Frog, wood engravings from An Alphabet of Animals, 1865 (Images from McGill Library);
Albatross, Dung Beetle, linocuts by Andrew Wightman, c. 2015 (Images from AndrewWightmanPrints);
Arbor, Japanese Garden, wood block print by Mary Azarian from A Gardener’s Alphabet, 2000.]


kaykuala said...

Anne, Very elaborate, very informative! Thanks for stopping by. Hank will follow you for the month.


Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Great to have you along, Hank!

Ronel Janse van Vuuren said...

Andrew Wightman's prints are my favourite from the lot.

Ronel visiting for A:
My Languishing TBR: A
Accomplished Athena

A Tarkabarka Hölgy said...

I am absolutely in love with that dung beetle!! :D

The Multicolored Diary

Melanie Atherton Allen said...

I agree that the dung beetle is adorable. Not a sentence I thought I’d ever write, but here we are.
To answer your question: I am a firm admirer of the wombat. Like, apparently, Rossetti. So I’d want a wombat in my illustrated animal alphabet. And an otter.

Hannelore Adler (SteampunkCowCorn) said...

Once again I must say that you picked a beautiful theme, my favorite print this time was the arbor, it looks so quiet and relaxing that I´d love to sit there to read, too.
My favourite animals are unicorns, so of course I´d love to see one in print or a wood engraved one.

Visiting from:

Deborah Weber said...

I'm utterly charmed by that dung beetle - I might have a new favorite D animal. :]

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone, and it's fun to see the dung beetle getting so much love! Dung beetles are actually very interesting creatures, and of course the Egyptians were very impressed by them, but it's true they're not usually so adorable.
Melanie, I was not aware that Rossetti favored the wombat.
Absenta, there will be more than one unicorn to come this month, so be sure to stop by to find them!

Sue Wyatt said...

G'day Anne,
Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment.

What a great A-Z theme you have! If I had to select one animal for an alphabet of animals it would be a whale especially a humpback whale.