Saul Steinberg

1914 (Râmnicu Sărat, Romania) – 1999 (New York)

Resistant to pigeonholing, Steinberg’s visual intelligence and wit was highlighted by his friend Danto asserting that his illustration of the notion of aesthetics got closer than any writer could. He collaborated with Picasso on a Cadavre Exquis, got drunk on a plane with Greene (their only meeting), and with dry humour, exchanged graduation diplomas with Levi. He and Warhol, their studios five floors apart, fascinated each other. Doisneau and Penn photographed him, Robbins created a ballet inspired by his drawings, and Bellow (a great friend) accompanied him on the Nile, both terrified of the crocodiles and imagining their obituaries.

J. J. Grandville

Jean-Jacques Grandville;Jean-Ignace-Isidore Gérard

1803 (Nancy, France) – 1847 (Vanves)

The bizarre and fantastic illustration of Grandville (the pen-name of Jean-Ignace-Isidore Gérard) anticipated the later work of the Surrealists; Breton and Bataille saw him as a significant precursor. His more overtly political work often led to attempts at suppression. Daumier, friend as well as colleague, worked alongside him on the journal ‘La Caricature’. The young prodigy Doré, whom Grandville met as a teenager, found him inspirational. Dumas also knew him, and described him as melancholic and reserved, adding that he smoked and drank little.

Constantin Guys

1802 (Vlissingen, Netherlands) – 1892 (Paris)

Guys’ significance may have faded, were it not for his role as the quintessential modern figure in Baudelaire’s essay ‘The Painter of Modern Life.’ But he was interestingly influential; his friends Manet and Baudelaire collected his work, Seurat treasured one piece, and Daumier (with whom he worked under Gavarni) and Delacroix both admired him. Fiercely private (he forbade Baudelaire to identify him by name, and berated Thackeray for the praise he’d printed), little is known of his life’s detail. Nadar was his most faithful friend in a circle of artists and writers; the Goncourts also knew and wrote fictionally about him.

Constantin Guys knew…

Gustave Doré

1832 (Strasbourg, France) – 1883 (Paris)

Doré was one of the most influential illustrators of the 19th C. Grandville met him as a youthful prodigy. Zola knew him when both worked for the publisher Hachette. Nadar was a close friend; he collected Doré’s work, photographing him several times, including on his death-bed. Gautier, another good friend (among several whose work Doré illustrated), travelled to Spain with him. Liszt and Saint-Saëns — also among the music-loving Doré’s friends — played for him together. He knew Wagner, was devoted to Rossini (calling in to draw him the day after his death), and counted Bernhardt among his lovers.

Hablot Knight Browne


1815 (London) – 1882 (Brighton, England)

Dickens and Browne were friends as well as close collaborators. Dickens took him on in person — Thackeray also applied, and helped Browne celebrate by taking him out for a dinner of sausages and stout. Dickens and Browne travelled everywhere together in the early years of their long working relationship, and played battledore and shuttlecock together. His illustrations for many of Dickens’ best-known novels did much to shape the public perception of the characters. When Browne took over illustrating the serialised ‘Pickwick Papers’, sales increased a hundred-fold. Eventually, after 23 years, they drifted apart.

Hablot Knight Browne knew…

George Cruikshank

1792 (London) – 1878 (London)

Cruikshank taught the novelist (and his good friend and admirer) Thackeray etching; Thackeray helped him out with money and wrote about him. He worked closely with Dickens, acting in his amateur theatre company and establishing for later generations the look of the times through his work on Oliver Twist in particular; though 20 years of friendship was destroyed by their quarrel about creative control and through the heavy drinker Cruikshank’s conversion to fanatical teetotalism. Ruskin, a friend, championed his work. Cruikshank told Mayhew, another collaborator, that he’d modelled Fagin’s expression on his own.

George Cruikshank knew…

William Swainson

1789 (London) – 1855 (Lower Hutt, New Zealand)

Rafinesque was met in Sicily, where Swainson and he worked together and became lifelong friends and correspondents. Audubon met and was befriended by Swainson on an extended stay in England; Swainson taught him the niceties of technical reproduction, they went to Paris and visited Cuvier together, but the friendship foundered when Audubon proposed that Swainson provide the scientific content of his ‘Birds of America’ without being credited (and at the same time give him house-room for some months). Lear was a friend. Joseph Hooker considered Swainson a first-rate naturalist, but said he was “as ignorant as a goose” about botany.

William Swainson knew…

Charles Alexandre Lesueur

Charles Alexandre Le Sueur

1778 (Le Havre, France) – 1846 (Sainte-Adresse)

Cuvier taught him — noted ichthyologists both. He acted as artist and naturalist on Baudin’s voyage to Australia, having signed up as a gunner: Péron was his colleague, and became a friend for life. Lesueur Met Maclure in Paris, and travelled extensively with him on scientific expeditions, joining his and Owen’s celebrated ‘Boatload of Knowledge’ from Pittsburgh to the utopian community of New Harmony (“more learning than ever was contained in a boat” was Owen’s description). Say, part of the same community, became a lifelong friend. Bodmer struck up a friendship with Lesueur and Say on a visit to New Harmony.

Charles Alexandre Lesueur knew…

Edward Gorey

1925 (Chicago) – 2000 (Hyannis, Mass.)

O’Hara and Gorey were Harvard room-mates, well-known for their exotic odd-couple appearance. Gorey was bad about keeping up with O’Hara afterwards, though not before they, Ashbery, Lurie and others founded a Cambridge theatre-company together; Wilder supported them. Gorey wrote a libretto for Wolf — an opera seria for his hand-puppets. Addams was a friend; they lunched together sometimes, Addams envying Gorey his more highbrow reputation.

Edward Gorey knew…

Thomas Bewick

1753 (Ovingham, England) – 1828 (?Ovingham)

Bewick drew Hazlitt’s portrait and attended his lectures on poetry: they were good friends (though polar opposites in their respective hatred and love of London life). In old age Bewick helped Audubon, on a visit to England, find subscribers for his folios of bird prints. Harvey was his favourite pupil and assistant.