Shadows Cast Against Walls in Art and Illustration


Shadows cast against walls in illustration tend to make a character look larger than life. This can be utilised to horror effect. Below, a big sister tells little brothers a bedtime story. The boys are clearly terrified.

Seymour Joseph Guy - Story of Golden Locks bed shadow
Seymour Joseph Guy – Story of Golden Locks
N.C. Wyeth from The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Published by Scribner's 1940 The Vigil
N.C. Wyeth from The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Published by Scribner’s 1940 The Vigil
The JPEG Wizard, Optimized by Pegasus Imaging Corp, http://www.jpg.com
Embossed postcard published by John Winsch, 1912
Embossed postcard published by John Winsch, 1912. The profile of a man relates to the superstition that a young woman would dream of her future husband on Hallowe’en.
Count Karlstein by PHILIP PULLMAN
‘Der Puppendocktor’, Jugend, 1933 by Otto Nuckel
J Allen St John witch illustration for The Face In The Pool 1905
Pale Woman (1922) by W.T Benda (Polish-American, 1873-1948)
Pale Woman (1922) by W.T Benda (Polish-American, 1873-1948)

The shadow in the Arthur Rackham illustration below catches the eye more than the head of the man.

Arthur Rackham – Jack Sprat could eat no fat, Mother Goose 1913
Arthur Rackham – Jack Sprat could eat no fat, Mother Goose 1913
Light and Shadows 1907 Etching by Tyra Kleen (1854-1951)
Gustaf Tenggren’s (concept) art for Disney
Gustaf Tenggren’s (concept) art for Disney witch
The Best Halloween Book 1931
R. F. GRAFSTROM Salvador Dali HORST Bacchanale EUGENE BERMAN Vogue 1939 October
R. F. GRAFSTROM Salvador Dali HORST Bacchanale EUGENE BERMAN Vogue 1939 October
Judge Magazine Cover art by Ruth Eastman 1925
Judge Magazine Cover art by Ruth Eastman 1925
Carl Friedrich Moritz Muller (German, 1807 - 1865) Christmas Eve, 1848
Carl Friedrich Moritz Muller (German, 1807 – 1865) Christmas Eve, 1848
The Apparition, 1973 Charles W. Stewart; 1915-2001
The Apparition, 1973 Charles W. Stewart; 1915-2001
A boy in bed makes shadow puppets on the walls with his hands. His nurse or mother sits on the bed doing the same.
Art by Edward F. Smith for Woman’s Home Companion April 1918
THE SHADOW - ( Pulp Magazine ) March 1, 1939 RIVER OF DEATH By Maxwell Grant
THE SHADOW – ( Pulp Magazine ) March 1, 1939 RIVER OF DEATH By Maxwell Grant
PATHS OF GLORY (1957) shadows against wall
PATHS OF GLORY (1957)
for 'Trapped In A Tank' in the Wide World Magazine May 1920 illustration by G.P. Carruthers
for ‘Trapped In A Tank’ in the Wide World Magazine May 1920 illustration by G.P. Carruthers
Arthur Rackham, The Story Teller, watercolour, pen, ink on paper, 1905
Arthur Rackham, The Story Teller, watercolour, pen, ink on paper, 1905
Laurence Schwinger's cover illustration for 'I Married a Dead Man' by Cornell Woolrich
Laurence Schwinger’s cover illustration for ‘I Married a Dead Man’ by Cornell Woolrich
‘The Spell’ Poster by Antonio Ballester, 1946
Maxwell Gordon Lightfoot Study of a Girl c.1910
Maxwell Gordon Lightfoot Study of a Girl c.1910
A couple in candle light, illustration of ‘ Les Liaisons Dangereuse s’ by Pierre Chodlerlos de Laclos (1741-1803) published 1920; (pochoir print), Barbier, Georges (1882-1932)
The Ladybird Book Of Bedtime Stories Geoffrey Lapage, Illustrations George Brook (Wills & Hepworth Ltd., Loughborough UK, 9th edition 1950)  cat shadow
The Ladybird Book Of Bedtime Stories Geoffrey Lapage, Illustrations George Brook (Wills & Hepworth Ltd., Loughborough UK, 9th edition 1950)
Kodomo no kuni (“Children’s Land”), 1922–30 shadow1
Kodomo no kuni (“Children’s Land”), 1922–30
from Gorilla by Anthony Browne

The shadows on the wall in the illustration below come from an unseen source of small man-like creatures on horseback. They may or may not be shadows.

Svend Otto - The Snow Queen shadows
Svend Otto – The Snow Queen
Charles Alston, an African American painter and illustrator, part of the Harlem Renaissance
Charles Alston, an African American painter and illustrator, part of the Harlem Renaissance

Shadows are used to comical (or possibly scary) effect below.

'Shadows' 1850 Charles Bennett (1829-67) rooster shadow
‘Shadows’ 1850 Charles Bennett (1829-67) rooster shadow
'Shadows' 1850 Charles Bennett (1829-67) duck shadow
‘Shadows’ 1850 Charles Bennett (1829-67) duck shadow
'Shadows' 1850 Charles Bennett (1829-67) alligator shadow
‘Shadows’ 1850 Charles Bennett (1829-67) alligator shadow
'Shadows' 1850 Charles Bennett (1829-67) parrot shadow
‘Shadows’ 1850 Charles Bennett (1829-67) parrot shadow
h! You Devil! Aida Overton Walker sheet music, 1909
h! You Devil! Aida Overton Walker sheet music, 1909

The shadow in the illustration below forms a dark frame around the characters, closing them in, enfolding them into the darkness.

William Rothenstein, The Doll’s House, 1899–1900 staircase shadows
William Rothenstein, The Doll’s House, 1899–1900
Charles W. Stewart (1915 - 2001) On The Way To The Doctor, 1974 illustration for Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast
Charles W. Stewart (1915 – 2001) On The Way To The Doctor, 1974 illustration for Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast
The Raven (Edgar Allan Poe), Gustave Dore, 1883
The Raven (Edgar Allan Poe), Gustave Dore, 1883
Tom Lovell (5 February 1909 – 29 June 1997)
Tom Lovell (5 February 1909 – 29 June 1997)
Coles Phillips, Holeproof Hosiery, 1923
Lemon girl young adult novella

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Header illustration: Ipswich hosiery advertisement for The Ladies Home Journal, March, 1927. Illustration by H. Augusta Meday