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Cyril Satorsky

Cyril Satorsky RCA (1927 – 2021) was a British painter, printmaker and illustrator who attended the Royal College of Art in London and worked as an educator in England and the United States. The publishers note for the Limited Editions Club edition of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Cawley and Rosenberg, 1971) as described by UWM Special Collections (2022) explains that Satorsky produced:- ‘twelve full-page ‘resist’ drawings, a two-page drawing for the title spread, and numerous tailpieces and incidental decorations, all printed in sepia’.  UWM holds copy 289 of 1500 that were printed and signed by Satorsky. The tone of the images their character, is darker than many other illustrators interpretations, almost horrific and seem to me to be influenced by medieval grotesques. 

The capricious expressions of attendants at Arthur’s court combined with others wearing animal headdresses adds to a feeling of pageantry and threat. The facial expression of the Green Knight’s steed (as he holds up his own severed head) is full of implied violence (staring frowning eyes, skin pulled tightly to emphasize the horses skull, gnashing exposed teeth). The display of violence is echoed in an image of Bertilak wrestling and stabbing a wild boar, and finally in the looming presence of a hulking Green Knight readying to decapitate Gawain. Lupack and Lupack (2008) draw attention to the most extravagant image which portrays a giant wodwose (wild man encountered by Gawain in the wilderness) as a muscular reptilian warrior, wielding a war-hammer. 


Cawley, A. and Rosenberg, J. (1971) Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. New York, Printed for the members of the Limited Editions Club.


Lupack, B. and Lupack, A. (2008) Illustrating Camelot. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer. (2021) Cyril Satorsky Obituary - Visitation & Funeral Information. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 May 2022].


UW-Milwaukee Special Collections. (2022) Fine Press Friday. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 May 2022].

Images shared with kind permission of the artist as of 2019

Gawain approches the castle (1971) by Cyril Satorsky
Arthur's court (1971) by Cyril Satorsky
The Green Knight (1971) by Cyril Satorsky
The Green Knight on his steed (1971) by Cyril Satorsky
Bertilak on a hunt (1971) by Cyril Satorsky
Gawain confronted by a wodwose (1971) by Cyril Satorsky
Gawain waits to be struck (1971) by Cyril Satorsky
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