He was fortunate enough to be brought early into the society of the artist, Joseph Severn [q. There also Robert saw much of his cousin Jane Holmes b. April , whom he married in Although Seymour never wholly abandoned oil-painting, he mainly confined his energies to preparing illustrations for the publishers of books, journals, and caricatures. He thus spent six busy years, during which all his work was drawn on the wood, or at any rate with a view to the graver.
He worked with extraordinary rapidity, and at a very low price. Most of his illustrations were remunerated at half a guinea apiece.
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This, although pecuniarily a disaster, gave Seymour the opportunity he had long desired of dispensing to a great extent with the middleman, the wood-engraver, by whom his work had been terribly mutilated. In self-defence he directed his attention to etching on copper. Although a keen reader from early days chiefly of religious and philosophic books , his neglected education was always apparent in the defects of his handwriting and spelling. This together with his rather serious cast of mind may account for his abstention from the society to which his talents and professional income would have readily admitted him.
He was for a long time a keen sportsman. In his health was seriously affected by overwork, but complete change of air soon brought about his recovery. From his artistic output was enormous. Successful though Seymour was with the etching needle, he soon to a great extent, though not completely, abandoned it for the more expeditious method of lithography. His works on stone are numbered by hundreds. They have been republished and re-engraved in many forms. Their popularity has, paradoxical though it may sound, gone a long way to damage Seymour's reputation as an artist, for it caused the plates to be printed and reprinted until the impressions were mere smudges.
Until the collaboration continued, during which time all things smug and self-satisfied were mercilessly satirised by their joint pen and pencil. Editor and illustrator then quarrelled. Seymour objected to the careless cutting and printing of his blocks, and to the editorial patronage of his youthful employer. On 16 Aug. A fortnight later Seymour resigned. In a few months the editorship passed into the hands of Henry Mayhew.
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This is very much in the line of his already published Seymour's Sketches. For the interested reader it is worth viewing his Seymour's Sketches on Project Gutenberg to get a feel for the popular style involved and to understand Seymour's viewpoint. The quality of the 'hack' writing as such writing was known in this volume is also valuable to provide contrast to Dickens' work. Edward Chapman agreed that the work should be issued in monthly parts, with descriptive text by Dickens.
This was a very popular method at the time. However Charles Dickens, then only 22, was not the first choice as writer. From this point differences of opinion are rife. Seymour's widow claims the credit for choosing Dickens as the hack because his 'poverty' would ensure that he would write the sketch links for the illustrations. However a more reliable view is that the senior editor in the publishing house did not have time to complete the work so recommended Dickens on the basis of his recently published and successful ' Sketches by Boz ', also in a monthly periodical format.
When Dickens was commissioned he made it clear that he was not a sporting person and therefore could not write this kind of sketch. But he liked the idea of a club and would write something the illustrations could be created from, reversing the order of the creative process. His story would have illustrations. It would not be a series of illustrations with a bit of story linking them together. Mr Winkle, the only main character really interested in sports, would be created to showcase Seymour but let Dickens write characters he wanted to. This was done to appease Seymour. It seems probable that Seymour had a set of preliminary drawings for the Nimrod Club.
He may have used them when discussing his idea with the publishers. His ideas for the Nimrod Club seem to go back to but due to his workload it doesn't seem to have been a project pursued until late or very early the latter date is more probable.
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Reports suggest that Dickens was not commissioned until 10 February with a publication date of 31 March as the deadline. This was a very short timescale considering that there were serious disagreements about how the project would be developed after Dickens was appointed. Seymour may have used his previous illustrations to describe his original idea for the Nimrod Club but the creation of Mr Pickwick's character's design would imply that there was a prototype for him made by Seymour.
This design seems to have been a thin man and was rejected by both the publisher and Dickens. The credit for the rotund final version was given by Dickens to Edward Chapman, as it was based on his acquaintance. However Seymour certainly had some characters similar to the round Mr Pickwick in his work before this time, although they are quite general in their detail and they appear similar in a number of his sketches.
They appear to be more simple caricature observations whereas Mr Pickwick appears to be drawn more sharply into a strong visual image. Dickens had also written the first two chapters for Seymour to work from.
From the facts that are known it seems logical then that Mr Pickwick was envisioned as a thin man, rejected and then redrawn on their suggestion of someone they knew and on Dickens writing. It also seems reasonable that Seymour used his previous work to help create the character, and Dickens is reported as saying that he had "made him a reality". Mr Pickwick seems to be an amalgamation of ideas from all these sources and is therefore not solely Seymour's creation. All the characteristics of the persona and the name appear to belong to Dickens.
Robert Seymour (illustrator) - Wikipedia
It is not known how much of The Pickwick Papers Seymour created. He committed suicide before the second part of the book was completed and published. He shot himself with a shotgun fowling piece in his summer-house behind his home in Liverpool Road , Islington , on 20 April It is clear that Seymour was not in control of the process of creating The Pickwick Papers and was in fact commissioned on quite meager monetary terms for four illustrations per magazine edition.
This figure does not include the frontage piece which could be reused. He seems to have received no payment for his idea, and his copyright for his illustrations seems to have been questionable. The frontage illustration that was issued on the first magazine edition reads "The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club - containing a faithful record of the perambulations, perils, travels, adventures and Sporting Transactions of the corresponding members". Edited by 'Boz'. With Illustrations. Seymour isn't even mentioned as a named contributor. The frontage piece includes all sorts of fishing and shooting references and would fit well with the Nimrod Club idea but fits less well with the Pickwick Club.
What sporting ideas may have been held as an original notion by Seymour were not realized in the magazine series, and after Seymour's death the focus of the stories becomes much clearer with more emphasis on ideas preferable to Dickens.
Dickens himself created controversy by saying that only 24 pages had been written for the second edition when Seymour committed suicide. It was pointed out by Joseph Grego in the book 'Pictorial Pickwickian' that in fact Seymour had created the draft image of "The Pickwickians in Mr.
Wardle's Kitchen". The discrepancy is in the idea that the last illustration for the story was to go on page '50'. There were only meant to be 48 written pages complete or in draft stage.
But the Pickwickians do end up in Mr Wardle's kitchen by the end of the second magazine issue regardless of what page this data was meant to have been published on. This small point has encouraged belief that Seymour was privy to ideas when there is no reliable evidence to suggest that this is true.
No images have been found which belong to ideas written later in the series but only ideas which were published in line with commissioned work for the second magazine. The page count may not include illustrated pages hardcopy reference required which would increase the count to a total of 56 sides plus index and frontage pages etc. The magazine was to be distributed at the end of each month. The second edition was finished with just three Seymour illustrations. Dickens changed the format for the 3rd edition of the magazine increasing the text to 32 pages and reducing the illustrations to two per issue.