Frederic Lawrence

Frederic Lawrence was an illustrator who produced five black and white images for Ernest Kirtlan’s 1912 translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Kirtlan was a Reverend at Hove Methodist Church). Sebastian Hau a contemporary antiquarian provides the most informative description of Lawrence and Kirtlan’s collaborations I was able to find.


Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’ was the first of three collaborations between Ernest Kirtlan and Frederic Lawrence, and also the most extensively illustrated of the three – ‘The Story of Beowulf’ (1913) and ‘Pearl’ (1918) each having only a colour frontispiece, and no other plates. Lawrence’s five beautiful, finely worked illustrations for ‘Sir Gawain’, as well as the accompanying headpieces and numerous decorative initials, are very much in Arts and Crafts style, and somewhat akin to the work of the Scottish illustrator Robert Burns, in his ‘Scots Ballads (Hau, 2018).


Lawrence’s images are characterful and naturalistic making the interesting addition of Gawain praying and receiving a blessing which emphasises the chivalric code by repeating the pentangle motif on the hem of a background curtain. The pentangle is a symbol of intersecting knightly morality (see St John, 2016) and is also the motif emblazoned on Gawain’s shield so this image foreshadows Gawain’s moral failing and spiritual journey.


References

  
Hau, S. (2018) Frederic Lawrence (illustrator); E.J.B. Kirtlan - Sir Gawain and the Green Knight - 1912. [online] Catawiki.com. Available at: <https://www.catawiki.com/en/l/18559687-frederic-lawrence-illustrator-e-j-b-kirtlan-sir-gawain-and-the-green-knight-1912> [Accessed 18 May 2022].


Kirtlan, E. J. B. (1912) Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. London, Charles H. Kelly.


St John, J. (2016) Perspectives in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: A Medieval Transgressive Text?. antae, [online] 3(3):254-267. Available at: <chrome-extension://oemmndcbldboiebfnladdacbdfmadadm/https://www.um.edu.mt/library/oar/bitstream/123456789/20369/1/Antae%203-3-2016%20-%20A3.pdf> [Accessed 22 October 2021].

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