Wonderland: The End

“Told that they were being moved downstairs
for their safety from unrest and artillery fire in
the city, they complied without question.”

(Rappaport, H. 2009 p. 376)

“there were no tears, no sobs and no questions”

(Radzinsky, E. 1992 p. 336)

The final image for Wonderland is something that I had in mind for a while and the idea was not only to conclude Alice’s story but also the story of the Romanov family as well. I knew a few things I wanted to include such as the opposing sides of the revolution clashing, Alice in the centre of the image to represent the death of the Romanovs as well as their later sainthood, and finally for it to be set in a religious place in order to emphasise the family’s religious nature as well as their sainthood and martyrdom.

Originally I wanted to base the building on the Church of All Saints or Church on the Blood which was built over the area where the Ipatiev House once stood, however this wasn’t working out very well in terms of composition and so I ended up being a more general looking Russian building with onion dome towers. With the composition however I was very inspired by many of the medieval imagery I had been researching throughout the year and I thought that this worked very well for the images. As with many of these images I screen-printed the red before adding detail with ink, watercolour and pencil. In conclusion this image basically sums up the end of the revolution, shown within the terror of the characters and the chaos of the falling building while Alice, a representation of the Romanov family, is at the centre of all of it and is in a position of prayer to illustration the ideas mentioned earlier.

Rappaport, H. (2014). Four Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Romanov Grand Duchesses. London, UK: Macmillan

Radzinsky, E. (1992). The Last Tsar: The Life and Death of Nicholas II. Great Britain: BCA

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Wonderland: Court of Hearts

“For a nation reading catastrophe into every unfortunate incident in this ill-fated reign it was further proof that the autocracy was doomed”

(Rappaport, H. 2009 p. 92)

As I was working on this project I found it difficult to come up with compositions that were different from the original Alice illustrations by John Tenniel, however as the project progressed I decided that nods to the original illustrations and the iconic images of Alice may work well as it will create a sense of familiarity for audiences. I also became more confident in doing this as I continued my research and realised that it is not only the story of Alice I’m telling but that of the Romanovs as well and so my interpretation of the story will still be fairly original.

This image was created by once again screen-printing all of the red before working back into it with ink, watercolour and pencil. It is a depiction of the trail scene and I decided to include several references to the Russian Revolution such as the opposing sides of the nobility and peasantry, the power of the imperial family and the Romanov double headed eagle which I modified to create a symbol for Wonderland, a double headed flamingo with a heart.

Rappaport, H. (2014). Four Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Romanov Grand Duchesses. London, UK: Macmillan

Wonderland: Quadrille

“For their part the crew, who relished the prestige of serving in the Shtandart, loved the four sisters, and found them enchanting.”

(Rappaport, H. 2009 p. 92)

This image is a continuation of the previous scene, this time focusing on the Lobster Quadrille that the Gryphon and Mock Turtle inform Alice of before taking part in it themselves. This scene also continues the previous ideas behind the imagery, the relationships between the Romanov children and their tutors and the sailors aboard the Shtandart.

Rappaport, H. (2014). Four Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Romanov Grand Duchesses. London, UK: Macmillan

Wonderland: Mock Turtle’s Story

“The children loved the Shtandart”

(Rappaport, H. 2009 p. 97)

Illustrating the Mock Turtle and Gryphon proved to be very difficult as I really struggled for a way to approach this without simply copying previous interpretations of the scene. As the two characters are the least hostile to Alice in the story and the scene takes place at the sea, I decided to base the Gryphon and Mock Turtle on the sailors and soldiers of the imperial yacht the Shtandart and also one of the Romanov children’s tutors Pierre Gilliard due to the Mock Turtle giving Alice a lesson. I also wanted these images to be more relaxed and open than the previous ones and so focused on the characters and their pose within the composition of the image in order to make the come alive and by contrast kept the backgrounds and surroundings simple.

Rappaport, H. (2014). Four Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Romanov Grand Duchesses. London, UK: Macmillan

Wonderland: The Queen and The Duchess

“I dare say you’re wondering why I don’t put my arm round your waist” the Duchess said, after a pause: “the reason is, that I’m doubtful about the temper of your flamingo. Shall I try the experiment?”

(Carroll, L. 2009 p. 79)

“The Duchess of Saxe-Coburg was totally exasperated with Alexandra’s endless retreats and non-appearances that season and her daughters’ total lack of experience.”

(Rappaport, H. 2009 p. 210)

This illustration continues the idea of the Romanov family being estranged from the Russian court, as stated in the second quote and shown in Alice’s discomfort. The Duchess in this scene of Alice has a surprisingly predatory nature towards Alice which I also decided to incorporate into this illustration with her looming over Alice’s shoulder and grasping her arm. As well as this a big inspiration behind this image was my reading on the possible marriage prospects that were surrounding the Romanov daughters and I thought that this image could represent not only the gossip surrounding the family in court and the dislike many had for Alexandra, but also the nobility clawing at marriage prospects in order to elevate their social standing. I created this image but once again screen-printing the red before applying watercolour and ink for further colour and then pencil for the detailing.

Carroll, L. and Haughton, H. (2009) Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There. London: Penguin Books Ltd

Rappaport, H. (2014). Four Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Romanov Grand Duchesses. London, UK: Macmillan

Wonderland: Croquet

“The Russian aristocracy remained stubbornly oblivious to the visible unrest gathering”

(Rappaport, H. 2009 p. 207)

As I began to introduce the Court of the Queen of Hearts into my work I felt that it was important to continue the idea of the nobility of Russia being unaware of the oncoming danger of the revolution, something which I set up in the illustrations of the Duchess’s house. I decided that the oblivious nature of the nobility would fit in perfectly with the scene of the croquet game from Alice as it shows how relaxed and leisurely these people are despite all of the chaos happening around them. As for Alice, in this image she represents the entire Romanov family who actually did not spend that much time at court and were often very out of place when they did, reflected here in Alice’s confusion to playing croquet with flamingos and hedgehogs.

Rappaport, H. (2014). Four Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Romanov Grand Duchesses. London, UK: Macmillan

Wonderland: Three Sisters

“and they lived at the bottom of a well—-”

(Carroll, L. 2009 p. 65)

“those pretty girls whom none of the guards had really wanted to have to kill”

(Rappaport, H. 2009 p. 190)

This image illustrates the story the Dormouse tells during the tea party of three sisters who live in a treacle well and it is another scene I immediately began to picture in my head when I read it. It is also one the first of these images which I just drew without applying colour and I used the sepia/brown coloured pencil to hint at the colour of the treacle well. As well as this, the main idea behind this image was representing the mine shaft in which some of the Romanov family were thrown down after their murder. Two of the children’s bodies were buried somewhere else and weren’t recovered for years later leading to continued speculation of survivors.  I used the three elder Romanov sisters Olga, Tatiana and Maria as inspiration for the treacle well sisters and as a representation of their death and the recovery of their bodies. I achieved this by having darker and more expressive mark making at the bottom of the image creating light and a sense of hope above the characters.

Carroll, L. and Haughton, H. (2009) Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There. London: Penguin Books Ltd

Rappaport, H. (2009). Ekaterinburg: The Last Days of the Romanovs. London, UK: Windmill Books

Wonderland: A Mad Tea Party

“She was discomforted by Rasputin’s unbridled familiarity, which she saw as intrusive and impertinent”

(Rappaport, 2014 p. 114)

“But first and foremost Rasputin had to be got rid of”

(Rappaport, 2014 p. 277)

As I had already made an image illustrating the tea party scene, I had a good idea of what I wanted to achieve with this piece. Since my version of the Hatter was based on Rasputin and the March Hare a representation of the nobility who wished to get rid of him I did some more research into Rasputin and his death. I kept ideas from the previous illustration such as Rasputin’s influence of the imperial family displayed through the Hatter and the sleeping Dormouse and also the discomfort and scandalous rumour that followed Rasputin, illustrated here through the Hatter and Alice.

As the scene takes place at a tea party, I decided to include some things from my research, the most notable example being a samovar which I learned about from one of the books I had looked at. I was also inspired by pictures I had seen of peasant families sitting together around a table with a samovar outside and this influenced the background of the image which features a traditional wooden Russian house. As I worked on the image the idea of it representing Rasputin’s death started to unfold; the March Hare became an allegory not only for the nobility at the time who were wary of Rasputin  but Prince Felix Yusapov who played a big role in Rasputin’s murder. The March Hare’s clothes are inspired by Prince Felix and the image includes small clues to Rasputin’s death, the most notable example being the plate of cakes and bottle of cyanide near the March Hare as part of Rasputin’s murder plot involved poisoned cakes.

I’m very happy with this image and once again it has achieved what I wanted it to. At first I was wary of the background, however once I had scanned it in I started to appreciate it and now think it works very well. Once again I screen-printed the table before working into the image with watercolour, pencil and gold ink.

Rappaport, H. (2014). Four Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Romanov Grand Duchesses. London, UK: Macmillan

 

Wonderland: The Duchess

“The Duchess took no notice of them even when they hit her”

(Carroll, L. 2009 p. 53)

Alice meeting the Duchess is such a bizarre but fun scene in the original novel and it is one scene I also struggled with for a while because I had no idea how to connect it with my Romanov research. This image leans more towards Alice than the Romanovs; however I did manage to find a way to illustrate both stories within the one image. I continued the foreshadowing of doom idea with the ink and pencil soldiers emerging from the fireplace similar to the soldiers surrounding Alice in the house in an earlier image. This idea is further emphasised with the quote from Alice which in my project can be applied to the nobility of Russia being unaware of the peasantry and building tension of the revolution. This is one image that I did not screen-print in order to apply the red, instead I used red acrylic with watercolour, ink and pencil.

Carroll, L. and Haughton, H. (2009) Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There. London: Penguin Books Ltd

Wonderland: Footmen

The footmen at the house of the Duchess are part of an interesting scene in Alice and I thought of a way to mirror this scene with the Romanov story fairly early on in the project. I dressed the frog and fish in the uniform of the Bolshevik soldiers using images from my research as reference. I screen-printed the door red, a recurring colour throughout the project, and based it on a door that led to the cellar room in the Ipatiev House. The red therefore represents the horror that awaits in that room.