Illustration paintings and illustration posters are ubiquitous across the globe and have served both utilitarian and aesthetic purposes for centuries. They can be found in ancient and modern texts, children’s books, novels, magazines, and newspapers. The period between 1880-1920 is known as the Golden Age of Illustration, and it was then that master illustrators like Norman Rockwell and Aubrey Beardsley gained major attention for their illustration artwork. Many artists today take inspiration from illustrative posters and prints, both past and present and Saatchi Art is pleased to offer a wide selection of contemporary illustration paintings for sale created by emerging artists from around the globe.
Early illuminated manuscripts were a laborious process, made mostly by monks in monasteries, and thus were often reserved for the rich to own. William Blake invented relief etching in 1788, an easier and quicker process to produce illuminated books. During the 19th century, Honoré Daumier’s lithographs and political illustrations gained popularity, such as his “Le Passé, Le Présent, L’Avenir,” satirizing a french official and the political strife plaguing France. Aubrey Beardsley’s provocative and erotic illustrative woodcuts, based off the Japanese style, gained attention and would later inspire the Art Nouveau movement. Noted illustrator Norman Rockwell famously documented an oft-idealised American Culture. However, his “The Problem We All Live With” illustration painting, printed originally as a centerfold in the 1964 issue of Look Magazine, depicted pressing Civil Rights issues in America.
The origin of illustrations can be dated back to prehistoric times, when images of life were drawn with charcoal onto cave walls. Illustrated manuscripts were developed during Late Antiquity and gained dominance during the Middle Ages. These manuscripts, typically on calf parchment or vellum, richly illustrated religious texts with biblical art. The surviving manuscripts remain the best preserved examples of medieval painting. With the invention of Gutenberg’s printing press and movable printing in the 15th century, woodcut illustrations rose to accompany these new texts. The 16th century and beyond saw new ways of producing art illustrations, such as etching, engraving, and lithography. The rise of newspapers and mass printed magazines for public consumption gave way to Golden Age of illustration, which displayed satirical and illustrative images in conjunction with the text.
To produce illustration paintings, artists create a visualization alongside a text, providing a graphic representation. Many styles and techniques are employed to create art illustrations, including painting, digital, printing, etching, and more. Though the function and need has decreased for this style of painting, the art of illustration remains a style still practiced and admired today by contemporary artists.