Charles Edmund Brock (1870-1938). Henry Matthew Brock (1875-1960)
A few years ago I purchased two old books (1950's) of Bible stories that were illustrated mostly in black & white. One illustrators work stood out from the rest, his name - H.M.Brock. Henry Matthew Brock had three other brothers, two of which were also talented artists/illustrators -Charles Edward (C.E.) and Richard Henry. (R.H.). The brothers shared a studio together in Cambridge and sometimes collaborated on projects. C.E worked mainly in oils while H.M worked mostly in watercolours. Both C.E and H.M were well known for their excellent line illustrations and they were both skilled cartoonists contributing to Punch magazine! The Brock brothers are best known for their illustration work on the famous novels by Charles Dickins, Jane Austin, Arthur Conan Doyle, Rudyard Kipling etc, but I wanted to take a brief look at their wonderful Bible illustrations!
Not so long ago I came across an old (board backed) copy of H.M Brock's 'The Bible Story'. (See right). This was the first time I'd seen H.M's Bible art in colour - and it left me wanting to see more! The Bible Story is a very thin book having only 16 pages with 8 colour illustrations and is one of a set of 4 books, the first two covering the Old Testament - the second two covering the New. As you can imagine this was a very concise edition covering the entire Bible in 32 short paragraphs!
A few weeks ago I was searching, (on the Amazon website), for more of the Brock brothers Bible Art and I came across an excellent copy of 'Through the Bible' by a Theodora Wilson Wilson, illustrated by C.E and H.M Brock! Charles Edmund illustrated the Old Testament while Henry Matthew worked on the new. The book was first published in 1938 so it must have been one of the last projects C.E worked on as he died in the same year. My only criticism of the book is that the b&w line illustrations were provided by a J.B.Ayto - the book would have been so much better had they used the Brock brothers line illustrations. I've scanned two samples from this book (see below) showing both H.M's and C.E's art for you to compare! (Click image for a bigger picture).
'Through the Bible' also contains some really nice black & white photography taken in the Holy Land presumably in the late 1930's or earlier.
At the end of the first World War the younger brother, Henry Matthew who worked almost entirely in pen and ink, began a career in advertising and illustrating boys adventure comics. You can see from the picture (above left) how his style suited this genre. Take a close look at the picture (above right) by Charles Edmund - can you spot the mistake? Click here for the answer.
A collection of artwork by H.M.Brock, including 70 originals, was donated to the University of Reading in 1994. This collection included the drawing board used by Charles Edmund. It's still possible to pick up an original picture by one of the Brock brothers (mostly C.E's) here!
Like William Hole and Harold Copping the Brock brothers kept a large collection of costumes that were modeled by willing members of their family and friends. Similarly also to artist Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, the Brock brothers built up a large collection of curios, antiques and furniture that also featured in their pictures.
I've not mentioned much about Richard Henry Brock as, from what I can gather, he didn't produce any Bible art but worked mainly on boys annuals. Look forward to your comments!