Goetz Kluge is an Electronics Engineer in Munich, Germany. He left a comment and Flickr link on Hymnes of Aestraea in April: “When illustrating a long and well known poem by Lewis Carroll, Henry Holiday seemingly liked the Ditchley Portrait too:”

 Ditchley Snark

There are a few reasons I’m remembering this now: (1) I’ve just noted on my previous post that this post would probably have something to do with Charles Lutwidge Dodgson a.k.a. Lewis Carroll; (2) The long and well-known poem Mr Kluge referenced is The Hunting of the Snark, which was parodied In Praise of Publius (Fit The First) at FLIPPANTLY FLORIDA about a month ago; (3) Henry Holiday’s illustrations are an example of (as noted in Aesthetic Theory) the importance of illustrating literature, particularly novels, in the Victorian Age.

Bonnetmaker’s photostream: Goetz’s Flickr profile says that besides being an engineer, he’s an occasional cartoonist and photographer. After he accidentally stumbled over some puzzles in Henry Holiday’s illustrations to Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark, his main reason for using Flickr is Snark Hunting.

The Ditchley Snark via Bonnetmaker’s photostream.

I’m skimming the surface, but Goethe’s Snark Hunting is sort of like an in-depth, scholarly “quite amateurish” engineering study of the mechanics of Holiday’s illustrations compared [sectionally] to well-known paintings. In this case it’s The Ditchley Portrait by Marcus Gheeraerts the Youngeran artist of the Tudor court:

“While I concede Tufail’s thesis (2003) that Holiday received his instructions from Carroll and created his illustrations to reflect Carroll’s cryptic messages and allusions, I contend that the interpretations given to the words we know so well by so many illustrators over a period in excess of 130 years continue to keep the Snark alive.

Furthermore, it is my personal belief that Holiday managed to slip in a few interpretations of his own even though Carroll approved of the end result.” (Doug Howick: The Hiihijig of the Bijtcheb, Knight Letter #28, Summer 2009)

The comparison shows Henry Holiday’s illustration (1876) to the front cover of Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark compared to a posterized [not shown] version of the Ditchley Portrait (a gift from Sir Henry Lee to Queen Elizabeth I, c. 1592) by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger.

Watch the sail of the ship and the queen’s “sail”

“It was a Boojum” back cover illustration by Henry Holiday 1876

As Henry Holiday frequently quoted from works of father & son Gheeraerts, John Tufail’s Illuminated Snark (2004) gave me the idea to search for a Gheeraerts painting in which a map is shown.

John reckoned, that the clouds in Holiday’s front cover illustration may be part of a map. I think that this possibility cannot be excluded. John’s assumption then drew my attention to the Ditchley portrait. (That again helped me to find sources for Holiday’s illustration to the back cover of Carroll’s book as well.)

He goes on to make a comparison between the back cover illustration of It was a Boojum and an “Allegorical English School painting (c. 1610) of Queen Elizabeth I at Old Age with allegory of Death and Father Time.”

I’ve added Goethe’s entire photostream to my sidebar because it’s a pretty fascinating piece of art history detective work (and something I need to revisit.)

THE HUNTING OF THE SNARK:  AN AGONY IN EIGHT FITS by Lewis Carroll — With nine illustrations by Henry Holiday


If — and the thing is wildly possible — the charge of writing nonsense were ever brought against the author of this brief but instructive poem, it would be based, I feel convinced, on the line (in p.4)

“Then the bowsprit got mixed with the rudder sometimes.”

In view of this painful possibility, I will not (as I might) appeal indignantly to my other writings as a proof that I am incapable of such a deed: I will not (as I might) point to the strong moral purpose of this poem itself, to the arithmetical principles so cautiously inculcated in it, or to its noble teachings in Natural History — I will take the more prosaic course of simply explaining how it happened.

“The Crew” by Henry Holiday 1876

The Bellman, who was almost morbidly sensitive about appearances, used to have the bowsprit unshipped once or twice a week to be revarnished, and it more than once happened, when the time came for replacing it, that no one on board could remember which end of the ship it belonged to…


NOTE:  The poem describes “with infinite humour the impossible voyage of an improbable crew to find an inconceivable creature.” It borrows occasionally from Jabberwocky, in Through the Looking-Glass. 

In common with other Carroll works, the meaning of his poems has been queried and analysed in depth. One of the most comprehensive [3] gatherings of information about the poem and its meaning is The Annotated Snark by Martin Gardner.

ILLUSTRATION NOTE:  The crew consists of ten members, whose descriptions all begin with the letter B. Pictured from left: a Bellman (the leader); a Baker; a Broker; a Bonnet Maker (in shadows); a Banker and a Billiard Maker. (The Boots is the only character who is not shown in any illustration in the original, a fact that has led to much speculation…)