Originally illustrated for the Chapman and Hall serialisation by Marcus Stone, who enjoyed Dickens's complete confidence and a considerable degree of autonomy in planning an extensive narrative-pictorial program (from May 1864 through November 1865), Our Mutual Friend was published in the United States in the "Illustrated Household Edition" of 1870 as a joint venture by a Boston and a New York publisher. The artist whom they selected for the project, Solomon Eytinge, Junior (1833-1905), had already illustrated A Holiday Romance for Ticknor-Fields' juvenile magazine Our Young Folks in 1867. Moreover and more significantly, in anticipation of that 1867-68 reading tour, the Boston publisher James T. Fields had commissioned from Eytinge ninety-six designs for wood-engravings to grace the pages of the exhaustive Diamond Edition of Dickens's works. In May, 1869, which marked the beginning of the last year of the novelist's life, Eytinge in company with James and Annie Fields, and her friend Amy Lowell, travelled to England and visited Dickens and his family at Gad's Hill, near Rochester, Kent, where over several siitings he painted the writer's portrait, which he subsequently transformed in to a lithograph to be published by Ticknor-Fields.

Some of the following plates eschew the conventional framed form of nineteenth-century book illustration by using a a rounded arch for the upper register of each picture, which is generally a double character study rather than an attempt to capture an actual moment in the text. William Winter in his autobiography recalls that Eytinge's illustrations for Dickens's works "gained the emphatic approval of the novelist" (318), although of course the pair did not actively collaborate on this series, as did Marcus Stone and Dickens for the 1864-65 forty serial illustrations for Chapman and Hall. Nevertheless, as one regards this series of sixteen dual character studies for Our Mutual Friend, one is tempted to agree with Winter that

The most appropriate pictures that have been made for illustration of the novels of Dickens, — pictures that are truly representative and free from the element of caricature, — are those made by Eytinge. . . . [317-318]

  1. Frontispiece, "The Bird of Prey" [Our Mutual Friend]
  2. "The Veneering Dinner"
  3. "Mr. and Mrs. Boffin"
  4. "The Six Jolly Fellowship-Porters"
  5. "Mr. Wegg and Mr. Venus in Consultation"
  6. "Podsnappery"
  7. "Mrs. Higden, Sloppy, and The Innocents"
  8. "Bradley Headstone and Charley Hexam"
  9. "The Person of the House and The Bad Child"
  10. "Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Lammle"
  11. "Fledgeby and Riah"
  12. Rogue Riderhood and Miss Pleasant at Home"
  13. "John Harmon"
  14. "Wrayburn and Lightwood"
  15. The Cherub and The Lovely Woman
  16. Mrs. Wilfer, Miss Lavinia, and Mr. Geo. Sampson
  17. Title-page for the "Illustrated Household Edition" of Our Mutual Friend (1870).
  18. Cover of the "Illustrated Household Edition" of Our Mutual Friend (1870).

References

Schlicke, Paul, ed. The Oxford Reader's Companion to Dickens. Oxford and New York: Oxford U. P., 1999.

Dickens, Charles. Our Mutual Friend. Il. Sol Eytinge, Jr. The Illustrated Household Edition. Boston: Lee & Shepard; New York: Charles T. Dillingham, 1870.

Kitton, Frederic George. Dickens and His Illustrators: Cruikshank, Seymour, Buss, "Phiz," Cattermole, Leech, Doyle, Stanfield, Maclise, Tenniel, Frank Stone, Landseer, Palmer, Topham, Marcus Stone, and Luke Fildes. Amsterdam: S. Emmering, 1972. Re-print of the London 1899 edition.

Winter, William. "Charles Dickens" and "Sol Eytinge." Old Friends: Being Literary Recollections of Other Days. New York: Moffat, Yard, & Co., 1909. Pp. 181-202, 317-319.


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Last modified 14 December 2010