Randolph Caldecott

R. Caldecott's Collection of Pictures and Songs by Randolph Caldecott interior page, a man galloping through the streets Sing A Song for Sixpence by Randolph Caldecott interior page, a woman running through the streets

The artist who invented the modern picture book grew up in the English Midlands, where at 15 he went to work as a "quill-driv[ing]" bank clerk. Caldecott preferred to draw, however, and from doodling on deposit slips, he leapfrogged to London and a flourishing career as a caricaturist for The Graphic and Punch.

Caldecott shared an obsession with motion and speed with his contemporary Eadweard Muybridge and the inventors of early animation devices like the praxinoscope. A master at depicting action in a few pen strokes, he enjoyed drawing while riding onboard fast-moving trains.

Hired in 1878 to create a series of aesthetically ambitious children's picture books, Caldecott reimagined the long-static genre as a kinetic new art form whose graphics and page designs pulse with the boundless energy of children at play, and anticipated the coming of that most modern of Industrial Age cultural innovations—the motion picture.


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Stuff and Nonsense by A.B. Frost cover, tragedy and comedy masks surrounded by text

Stuff and Nonsense

Written by A. B. Frost

1884

R. Caldecott Collection of Pictures and Songs by Randolph Caldecott cover, several men riding horses and carrying banners

Sing A Song for Sixpence

Written and Illustrated by Randolph Caldecott

1880

Yankee Doodle: An Old Friend in a New Dress by Howard Pyle cover, several red coated military men with instruments

Yankee Doodle: An Old Friend in a New Dress

Written by Howard Pyle

1881

A Frog He Would A-Wooing Go by Randolph Caldecott cover, a well dressed mouse and frog knocking on a front door

A Frog He Would A-Wooing Go

Written and Illustrated by Randolph Caldecott

1883

A Apple Pie by Kate Greenaway cover, several children gathering apples

A Apple Pie

Written and Illustrated by Kate Greenaway

1886

R. Caldecott Collection of Pictures and Songs by Randolph Caldecott cover, several men riding horses and carrying banners

The Diverting History of John Gilpin

Written and Illustrated by Randolph Caldecott

1896

Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey cover, illustration of mother duck and ducklings

Make Way for Ducklings

Written by Robert McCloskey

1941

Tuesday by David Wiesner cover, a close up of a large clock tower

Tuesday

Written by David Wiesner

1991

Lothar Meggendorfer's Internationaler Circus by Lothar Meggendorfer cover, several clowns doing handstands and balancing on each other

Lothar Meggendorfer's International Circus

Written by Lothar Meggendorfer

2006

Hokusai Manga by Katsushika Hokusai interior page, a Japanese paper lantern ghost (Chōchin-obake) with dark hair and red eyes

Hokusai manga

Written by Hokusai Katsushika

2011

Art of the Picture Book
Randolph Caldecott