Joseph Clayton Clarke ("Kyd")

Joseph Clayton Clarke, known as Kyd - Doublesided Original Illustration Art: The Bloodied Boxer in His Corner/The Hikers - 1930s P2979

Regular price $500.00

Two rare contemporary subjects for this well known British artist best known for the Dickens illustrations he signed as "Kyd". Here the signature is of his own name, both subjects drawn with a Dickensian flair for characterization. The hikers in their shorts, one on a bike, are a gung-ho family of definitely intellectual and perhaps even left-wing persuasion being observed with great amusement by a farmer type behind the hedge. Clarke certainly finds them amusing as well: he has given them all a definite family resemblance. Dad's specs, cigarette, and hairy legs are noted, and the mother and daughter are pretty hearty and sporty and serious. But the humor is gently humane.

By contrast, the characters in the boxing scene are four recognizably rough types from the world of the boxing ring. They have tried to patch their battered pug but he may not last another round. We love the addition of a black man to the group. It's a vivid and telling snapshot of the sport, clear eyed yet compassionate.

We are delighted to have this rare example of Clarke's takes on the world he observed around him towards the end of a long life, the world of Britain between the wars.

Ink on card stock, measures 14 3/4" x 10".

Joseph Clayton Clark (1856/57 — 8 August 1937), who worked under the pseudonym "Kyd", was a British artist best known for his illustrations of characters from the novels of Charles Dickens. The artwork was published in magazines or sold as watercolor paintings, rather than included in an edition of the novels.

Early life and family life

He was born in Peel on the Isle of Man in 1856 or 1857, the son of Lauris and Eliza Clark.   

In 1889 he married Agnes Roberts (born 1872), and their children were: David (born 1891), Dora (born 1891), Constance (born 1893), Grace (born 1895), Josephine (born 1897), Rose (born 1898), Joseph Cecil (1900–1989), Cecil William (1900–1989), Alice Ivy (1906–1927), and Joseph (born 1911). Around 1892, Clark moved with his family to Chichester in West Sussex.


Wilkins Micawber from David Copperfield


Clark had many occupations during his lifetime, including designer of cigarette cards and postcards, and as a fore-edge painter principally specializing in characters from the works of Charles Dickens. He worked for Punch for only one day and then as a freelance artist until 1900.

Clark's illustrations from Dickens first appeared in 1887 in Fleet Street Magazine, with two published collections appearing shortly after as The Characters of Charles Dickens (1889) and Some Well Known Characters from the Works of Charles Dickens (1892). Kyd's representations from the works of Dickens owe much to the original illustrations of Hablot Knight Browne ('Phiz') and Robert Seymour (the first illustrator of The Pickwick Papers, one of Clark's most popular themes), while the modeling of the characters seems to be based on Phiz's later designs from the 1870s. Early in the twentieth century five sets of postcards based on his Dickens drawings were published, as well as seven sets of non-Dickensian comic cards.

From 1927 Clark earned his living from watercolor sketches, mainly of Dickens' characters, which he sold to and through the London book trade. Frederic G. Kitton referred to Clark in his book Dickens and His Illustrators (1890), by which time Clark's watercolors were already being bought by major Dickens collectors. The auction of the Dickens collection of F W Cosens FSA of Clapham Park, held at Christie's on 17 May 1890, sold a collection of 241 of Clark's Dickens watercolors, and Tom Wilson, at the time the foremost collector of Dickens, owned 331 of Clark's drawings.

"As a character 'Kyd' emulated those of Dickens and his own illustrations – slightly larger than life. In his style and dress he was mildly flamboyant for the period. He seldom varied his attire from a grey suit, spats, homburg hat, gloves and was never without a carnation or substitute flower in his button hole."

Apart from his Dickens work, "Kyd" also illustrated humorous series such as "Some Typical Newspaper Readers" (c.1900), "The Book and Its Reader", and "London Types". He also illustrated a series of 50 smokers for Gallaher Ltd.; this series was issued as a set of cigarette cards entitled 'Votaries of the Weed' in 1916.

In 1910 the British Museum acquired a collection of 598 drawings and paintings of Clark's Dickens illustrations, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, Charles Dickens Museum and the University of Texas at Austin each also have significant collections of Clark's Dickens illustrations.


Joseph Clayton Clark died in the New End Hospital in Hammersmith in London in August 1937.

Honored as UK stamp art

Six of his illustrations were issued as stamps by the Royal Mail in 2012 to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens.

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