They reached the cloister-garth, where were the graves of monks. Upon one of these graves he carefully laid her down by Hubert Von Herkomer (HH 91), C. Johnson engraver This plate, number 15 in the serialisation, by various artists, of Thomas Hardy's Tess of the Durbervilles, appeared in the 17 October 1891 London Graphic: whole-page, horizontal: 21.3 cm high by 30.1 cm wide (8 ⅝ inches by 12 inches wide). Page 449 in the 15th instalment, pp. 450-451). [Click on the illustration to enlarge it.]

Passage Illustrated: Somnambulism Amidst a Gothic Ruin

Here they were within a plantation which formed the Abbey grounds, and taking a new hold of her he went onward a few steps till they reached the ruined choir of the Abbey-church. Against the north wall was the empty stone coffin of an abbot, in which every tourist with a turn for grim humour was accustomed to stretch himself. In this Clare carefully laid Tess. Having kissed her lips a second time he breathed deeply, as if a greatly desired end were attained. Clare then lay down on the ground alongside, when he immediately fell into the deep dead slumber of exhaustion, and remained motionless as a log. The spurt of mental excitement which had produced the effort was now over. [Book Fifth, "The Woman Pays," Chapter XXXVII; pp. 322-323 in the 1897 volume edition]

Commentary: Chiaroscuro lends the scene a dream-like quality

Detail of They reached the cloister-garth. . . by Herkomer.

This is one of those passages which Hardy mentions as having appeared in the London Graphic, the Fortnightly Review, and the National Observer,which he subsequently modified as this material was "more especially addressed to adult readers" ("Explanatory Note to the First Edition," November 191). Hardy specifically notes that the volume readings are consistent with his original manuscript, and that he made adjustments for the texts as they were printed in the periodicals. Perhaps, after serialisation, he restored "cloister-garth" (XXXVII: 451), highly specialised architectural diction, for "ruined choir."

Although at first glance Herkomer's treatment of the night scene might seem rather generalised in comparison, for example, with the much more detailed initial plate, There stood her mother, amid the group of children, hanging over the washing tub (4 July 1891), the startling whiteness of the figures against the uneasy, amorphous dark objects in the background imparts an appropriately dream-like quality to the figures. As Angel seems alert and looks outside the frame, Tess curiously studies her young husband's face, as if trying to understand what is passing through his mind. The whiteness of Tess's nightgown suggests not only her club-walking and wedding gowns, but also a shroud. Despite his bizarre behaviour, Tess's trust in Angel at this point is unswerving as Hardy's comment about her "loyal confidence" and Herkomer's rendering of her unclouded visage suggest.

Stage-right rear of the couple Herkomer suggests the stream that the couple have just crossed, a bare tree weirdly according with the autumnal setting; but he shows no footbridge in the shadows, as if implying that there can be no turning back for either husband or wife. Although Herkomer's vigorous treatment of the sky is reflective of Hardy's gyrating stream, it again imparts to the scene the quality of "a transient dream." Gone are the architectural elements that suggest the Gothic ruin, perhaps because Herkomer wishes to emphasize the relationship between the pair in a natural setting, and perhaps because the viewer is stationed (so to speak) immediately in front of the ruined wall. In total, the magazine serial's sleepwalking scene smacks of Hardy's early Sensation Novels.

Note: The next illustrations in this serialisation are by different illustrators. For the complete list, click here.

Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham. Formatting by George P. Landow. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]


Allingham, Philip V. "The Original Illustrations for Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles Drawn by Daniel A. Wehrschmidt, Ernest Borough-Johnson, and Joseph Sydall for the Graphic (1891)." The Thomas Hardy Year Book, No. 24 (1997): 3-50.

Allingham, Philip V. "Six Original Illustrations for Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles Drawn by Sir Hubert Von Herkomer for the Graphic (1891)." The Thomas Hardy Journal, Vol. X, No. 1 (February 1994): 52-70.

Hardy, Thomas. Tess of the D'Urbervilles in the Graphic, 1891, 4 July-26 December, pp. 11-761.

Hardy, Thomas. Tess of the D'Urbervilles: A Pure Woman. Vol. I. The Wessex Novels.London: Osgood, McIlvaine, 1897.

Jackson, Arlene M. Illustration and the Novels of Thomas Hardy. Totowa, NJ: Rowman and Littlefield, 1981.

Vann, J. Don. "Tess of the D'Urbervilles in the Graphic, 4 July — 26 December 1891." Victorian Novels in Serial. New York: MLA, 1985, pp. 88-89.

Created 5 December 2000

Last modified 28 April 2024