Barbosa – The man who drew Flashman

I was given a gift of a book on an artist I had only noticed a few months ago! But when reading the book I realised I’d seen his work in Lilliput a long time ago where I have examined a lot of Raymond Sheppard‘s artwork.

Artur Barbosa on the far right

Artur Ernesto Teixeira de Vasconcelos Barbosa, was an artist who worked in different fields – predominantly commercial art. As Lawrence Blackmore, the author, says this meant his work was not as valued as those ‘fine artists’ who assemble piles of bricks, or unmade beds! Barbosa was very talented and is well-remembered for his focus on period costume but he also designed stage sets, costumes and as Blackmore tells us, on one occasion, the interior of a rather famous yacht!

Barbosa was born in Liverpool on 6 March 1908 and lived in Groombridge, Kent until his death on 5 October 1995.

 

Barbosa – the man who drew Flashman

The picture of the cover, above, shows how thick this gorgeous book is – 350 pages of reproductions, and biographies. It’s on quality paper and I can’t see there ever being another biography on Barbosa or a gathering of his materials in one place like this. The edition is limited to 500 – or as the publisher says “Available in a limited edition of just 500 copies worldwide, only four hundred and fifty of which will be for sale. It will not be reprinted”

 

Blackmore gives us a biography and tells us about Barbosa’s career and how he worked on book jackets, set design, costume design, and advertising. He outlines the work Barbosa did on the following authors, together with a small biography of each:

  • pp 85-102: George MacDonald Fraser
  • pp103-122: Georgette Heyer
  • pp123-130: Patrick O’Brian
  • pp 131-140: Doris Leslie

He covers Barbosa’s work in magazines of the day Lilliput, Everbody’s Weekly, Bystander and does not sniff at children’s work (a refreshing change). Other authors mentioned include C. S. Forester, Joanna Trollope, Graham Greene, Sax Rohmer, Jules Verne, Anthony Powell, and Lytton Strachey.  I had a lovely surprise when I had saw the following covers on John Christopher books – an author I love. I have never seen these before!

John Christopher covers by Barbosa

A very rare portfolio is reproduced in the book – here’s one image, demonstrating Barbosa’s detail working. Blackmore reproduces the captions which will tell you more!

A Louisiana Zouave – Sergeant c. 1862

One of Barbosa’s later commissions was for Tesco supermarket, producing designs for their fortified wines!

Tesco fortified wines range – labels designed by Barbosa

Now, time for my confession. I don’t like Barbosa’s Regency and period costume paintings. Besides the elongated figures, I find the colour paintings too 2-D without depth – even where there is a background.  I do like his dustjacket designs as they mirror the period I love, where illustrators – not photographers – were king (and queen!). However I must say I do like his linework in black and white – here’s one example from the book

One page of Barbosa’s line work

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor (and Rex Harrison)  are just some of the names that crop up in this brilliant book.  The Hollywood couple asked Barbosa to design the interior of a yacht they bought, Burton, apparently realising it’s almost as cheap to own a yacht (and pay staff) than pay hotel bills!

 

The Burtons’ boat

 

I loved the fact that Blackmore never skirts round explaining some of the works he has found and their origins, placing art in Barbosa’s timeline. Such as the Radnorshire Fine Arts Limited pieces

CONCLUSION:

I enjoyed reading this book and seeing how a researcher and fan of Barbosa put together a finished product.  Personally – and this is just me – I’d love an article on the search process which can be fascinating in itself.  The reproductions are very good – especially as Blackmore himself confesses very little of Barbosa’s orignal art exists. I would have liked to see references placed as footnotes to see Blackmore’s sources, but his notes at the end of the book cover all the queries I had, although I had to deduce some of them. I loved the fact that Blackmore appears not to held back any information he has acquired over a long time collecting said information. Where he has a lead he takes it, checks it, theorises and shares it here. A completist, if ever there was one. If not for the fact he admits that much more is likely to be out there yet to be discovered, this could be a catalog rasionée. Even so I doubt another will ever exist!

Another artist, mentioned in the book from Barbosa’s time was Reinganum, I’d love to see a book of his artwork! But I suspect I’m in a minority there too!  One thing lacking from the book was something about Barbosa’s techinique but knowledge like that must be very hard to gather if no contemporary articles exist – especially as those who knew him are few and far between now. Blackmore has done all art collectors and admirers a great service by putting this book together

LINKS:

Obituary

BOOK AVAILABLE AT:

http://bookpalace.com/acatalog/info_BARBOSA.html#SID=1469

Title: Barbosa: The Man who drew Flashman
Author: Lawrence Blackmore
Artist: Arthur Barbosa
Publisher: Book Palace Books, June 2018
Number of pages: 350
Format: Hard Cover with Dust Wrapper; Full Colour illustrations
Size: 9″ x 12″ (220mm x 297mm)
ISBN: 9781907081439

The Three Musketeers

ThreeMusketeers-L

Book Palace’s brilliant reprint of Arturo del Castillo’s artwork

There are so many versions of this story that one more, I thought, seemed a bit superfluous, but I was wrong! And before we gone on, in case you need this, this article contains spoilers!

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Arturo del Castillo’s superb artwork as reproduced in this book. Just look at that figure work!

SUMMARY

The artwork, which first appeared weekly in the UK’s children’s comic Film Fun and Lion, is of exceptional quality. The publisher has done a fantastic job considering the bleed through that occurred in children’s comics of the late 50s early 60s. The scans are great but the highlight of this paperback is the reproduction of Castillo’s original art. 14 pages of extraordinary beauty! Steve Holland provides a ‘stripography’ of Castillo’s work and an introduction to the lore of the Three or four Musketeers! A book that is very unlikely to be reprinted and well worth obtaining.

REVIEW

The three stories first appeared in

  1. Film Fun: 7 Jan 1961 – 27 May 1961 as “Three Musketeers”
  2. Lion: 28 Sept 1963 – 2 Nov 1963 as “The King’s Musketeers”
  3. Lion: 9 Nov 1963 – 22 Feb 1964 as “The Man in the Iron mask”

Steve Holland’s introduction of 5 two-columned pages covers the history of Dumas’ work and the Musketeers in particular. I love Steve’s work as he is a fan and writes for fans, knowing just how much to put in the introduction.

ThreeM_a

D’Artagnan portrayed by Walter Abel adorns this gorgeous page.

The first story has headers of photographs from the two films that appeared in 1935 (with Walter Abel as D’Artagnan) and 1948 with Gene Kelly. I thought that Errol Flynn appeared as D’Artagnan, but I’m wrong! He did star in “The Adventures of Robin Hood” in 1938 where he performed some brilliant fencing, so I expect I’ve mixed that up in my mind! The story tells of how D’Artagnan travels to Paris to join the Musketeers and how a gift to the Queen from the Duke of Buckingham might cause a war!

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Wonderful detail in the Sea Captain’s face and beard!

ThreeM_c

A beautiful scene showing horses close up as well in silhouette. Stop for a moment and look at the rocks and trees. Gorgeous work!

The second story has a tragic event which is very touching and we learn of the Queen’s twin sons and how Richelieu must separate them before they cause division in France.

D'Artagnan tries to rescue his love

D’Artagnan’s adventure reminiscent of Alex Raymond’s work.

D'Artagnan is too late

Lady Constance slips away from D’Artagnan. Castillo leaves the panel with the central characters commanding the space. D’Artagnan’s simple words tell us the bad news and hurt as we read.

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The coach is ambushed on a valley road.

The third story carries on from the birth and separation of the two Dauphins and tells the story of “the Man in the Iron Mask”

Steve Holland writes a two page biography of Arturo del Castillo and gives us a ‘stripography’ of his work in the UK. The book is rounded off with such a highlight – 14 pages of fantastic original artwork reproduced as they are today.

I can’t recommend this book enough and for all this you pay £20!

DETAILS

The Complete Adventures of The Three Musketeers

Author: Alexandre Dumas; edited by Steve Holland
Artist: Arturo del Castillo
Publisher: Book Palace Books, 30 April 2018
Number of pages: 112
Format: Flexi Cover; Black & White illustrations
Size: 9″ x 11″ (216mm x 280mm)
ISBN: 9780955159688

PRICE: £20.00