“You have probably never heard of Professor Moriarty?” said [Holmes].
“Aye, there’s the genius and the wonder of the thing!” he cried. “The man pervades London, and no one has heard of him. That’s what puts him on a pinnacle in the records of crime. I tell you, Watson, in all seriousness, that if I could beat that man, if I could free society of him, I should feel that my own career had reached its summit, and I should be prepared to turn to some more placid line in life.”
Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Final Problem
THE NEXT plate that I’ve come to in my drawings from Sidney Paget’s illustrations to Sherlock Holmes is his portrait of the ‘Napoleon of Crime’, Professor Moriarty.
Last month I drew on the ledge at the Reichenbach Falls which features in Paget’s illustration ‘The Death of Sherlock Holmes’. The engraving is signed, in block capitals ‘SIDNEY PAGET, 1893′. The misty gothic background to the duel is a reasonably accurate depiction of the Falls themselves.
Drawing from the originals makes me appreciate Paget’s skill as an illustrator and his lasting contribution to our image of Holmes.
Moriarty reminds me of Max Wall (1908-1990), in his variety turn as the manically musical Professor Wallofski.
RETURNING TO my Sherlock Holmes book project after an inspiring visit to the Reichenbach Falls, I’ve decided to get back into the swing of things with some drawing rather than with writing or research.
Previously I’ve been thinking of illustrating Sherlock in black and white but I’m starting to realise that colour will make the book more attractive and will help me capture the mood of the story that I’m telling.
As with so many books and screen versions of Holmes, my starting point is the original illustrations by Sidney Paget that appeared in The Strand Magazine. This doesn’t entirely limit me to black and white; The Complete Facsimile Edition, published in 2006, also includes 15 colour plates.
The colour is muted in my first drawings, after Paget’s illustration for The Adventure of Silver Blaze, as Watson and Holmes Holmes are dressed for a day at the races. In place of his trademark deerstalker hat Holmes, like Watson, has gone for a top hat.
A small detail; Holmes wears brown leather gloves, while Watson’s are grey.
Despite its name, which might be a mistranslation of the Greek, this member of the primrose family isn’t renowned for its calming properties. Culpeper recommends it for wounds, sore-throats and as a fly and gnat repellent.