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Even More Illustrations from the Victorian Coloring Book

Illustration from Victorian Coloring Book

In this very busy picture, a little Victorian boy sits with a book among his animal friends. There are geese, squirrels, cats, dogs and more. Even the border of this illustration is illustrated. Victorian boys and girls would have had great fun coloring this page!

The Peacock's Complaint

This drawing is entitled The Peacock's Complaint and is inspired by Aesop's Fable by the same name. In the classical story, the Peacock complains to the goddess Juno that he cannot sing as well as the nightingale, despite having been granted beautiful plumage. The goddess tells him to be content with his lot and station in life. The Walter Crane version the goddess admonishes the Peacock to hold his fool's tongue and to be content with thy having.

It is interesting that this vignette has the greatest amount of text, and the most explicit moral lesson. It is consistent with the Victorian view that people should be content with their place in society, a concept explicitly illustrated in the stratified society of the British Beehive.

The Woodseller

In this illustration a carrying a bundle of wood, probably to sell as firewood, is shaking the hand of a well-dressed woman. It is not clear what the message is or what story this is meant to illustrate. However it is clear that the man and the woman are from two different social classes in Victorian England. The rich detail of their clothing makes this vignette very interesting.

An old woman sells baking door to door

In this illustration, an old woman has come to the door selling her baking out of a basket that she carries. A maid watches as her two young charges eagerly take the goodies. Once again this illustration is rich in detail about Victorian life and costume. For example, note how the old woman's shoes have platforms, likely to allow her to walk through mud and keep her shoes clean.

Jack and Jill

This illustration from the coloring book is inspired by the traditional nursery rhyme of Jack and Jill: Jack and Jill/ Went up the hill/ To fetch a pail of water/ Jack fell down and broke his crown/ And Gill came tumbling after. /

Helen of Troy

This page from the coloring book depicts the suitors of Helen of Troy, an episode from Greek myth. This image would not be readily understood by modern readers but would have been part of the collective body of knowledge during Victorian England, when the classics were emphasized in school. I was only able to figure out what this image was about by googling the fact that one of the suitors was bringing Helen an egg, an allusion to her unusual birth from a Goose's egg, laid by Leda after being impregnated by Zeus in the form of a swan. Greek mythology was weird that way.

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Walter Crane

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