Georges Seurat, 'Bathers at Asnières'
Georges Seurat was one of the most important Post Impressionist painters and his paintings depict modern life. One of his most famous paintings is 'Bathers at Asnières', which he painted aged only 24. Asnières is a place to the west of Paris on the River Seine. Seurat's painting shows a group of young workmen (and their dog!) relaxing on the riverbank and in the water. Seurat sketched and painted some of the bathers on-site by the water at Asnières, but he painted the big final picture back in his studio. You can see the painting at The National Gallery in London.
William Blake was born on 28th November, 1757. He was an English poet, painter and printmaker. Blake was considered mad by many due to his strange views – he had wild eyes and claimed to see visions – but his work is now praised for its imagination.
Perhaps one of William Blake's most famous paintings, 'The Ghost of a Flea' depicts a hulking beast flicking his lizard-like tongue towards a cup of blood. William Blake often saw odd visions and he claimed that while sketching a flea, it told him that fleas were inhabited by the souls of bloodthirsty men. Their souls are trapped inside tiny insects because, if they were contained in larger animals, they would be too great a threat. Though very small, the picture is a nightmarish vision. It is housed in the Tate Britain art gallery in London, and inspired John and Carole to imagine Duncan Fox's scary painting of 'The Demon Within' in Hollow Earth.
Can you spot this quotation in Hollow Earth? “In the universe, there are things that are known, and things that are unknown, and in between, there are doors.” This is a quote from William Blake’s writings.
Vincent Van Gogh
Vincent Willem Van Gogh was born on 30th March, 1853. He was a Dutch painter in the Post Impressionist style, which used bright colours, thick paint and real-life subjects. Although he is now considered one of the greatest artists in history, he was largely unknown during his lifetime and only ever sold one painting. Van Gogh suffered from periods of madness and died from a self-inflicted gun shot wound to the chest on 29th July, 1890. His series of sunflower paintings are his most famous.
One can be found in the National Gallery, London: You can see their version of the painting here, on their website.
Another now hangs in the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam. You can see it here on their website, and can compare it with the painting in The National Gallery.
‘Starry Night’ is another beautiful painting of Van Gogh’s that inspired John and Carole and so is mentioned in Hollow Earth. It shows a village and church beneath a night sky with a bold, bright yellow moon. It now hangs in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
The painting ‘Poppy Fields’ referred to in Hollow Earth is inspired by Van Gogh’s ‘Field With Poppies’ which he painted in 1890. It depicts brilliant red poppy blooms against bright green Dutch fields, and you can see the painting here.
'Witch With Changeling Child’
The painting featured in Hollow Earth named ‘Witch With Changeling Child’ is John and Carole’s own creation. They were inspired by Henry Fuseli’s ‘Titania and Bottom’, which features the gruesome figure of a witch cradling a changeling in the bottom right hand corner of the canvas. You can see the painting at the Tate Britain art gallery in London.
Can you find the witch and the changeling child in the painting? You can see a bigger version of the painting on the Google Art website.
In Hollow Earth, Matt suggests that the next painting they go into should be a ‘wild’ one – like a Dali. Matt is referring to the work of Salvador Dali who was a Spanish Surrealist painter. His paintings depicted strange scenes incorporating bizarre items like clocks that appear to be melting, elephants with skyscraper tall legs and disembodied eyes.
His best-known work, 'The Persistence of Memory' was completed in 1931. It is housed in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
An illuminated manuscript is one embellished with gorgeous decorations, borders and illustrations. Strictly speaking, the term should only relate to manuscripts decorated with gold or silver but it is now used to refer to any highly decorated manuscript. The earliest surviving manuscripts date from as long ago as 400AD. They were often illustrated by monks, like Solon in Hollow Earth, and frequently included pictures of amazing real and imaginary birds and beasts. The start of each section would often feature the first letter of the text richly decorated with patterns, people and animals.
Find out more about illuminated manuscripts in the FUN STUFF section of this website, and here: Factsheets on illuminated manuscripts.
Medieval Bestiaries and ‘The Book of Beasts’
A bestiary is an illustrated book of mythical monsters and beasts, usually organized alphabetically. These illustrated volumes were popular in the Middle Ages when people looked to nature and to the behaviour of animals to help understand the world around them. Bestiaries were popular teaching tools to reinforce appropriate community values like sharing. Although most people during the Middle Ages could not read or write, they would be able to recognize images of animals from bestiaries in stained glass windows and the architecture of their buildings.
The beasts in medieval bestiaries were often a blend of imagined and real animals and the stories associated with them were designed to teach a moral or a lesson about how to behave. The caladrius that appears in Hollow Earth also appears in a number of bestiaries from the Middle Ages. It was believed to be a massive white bird that could cure diseases and sees into the future. A peryton, a winged stag, and the Grendel also appear in the book. The Grendel is inspired by the hideous monster who must be defeated in the long Old English poem Beowulf.
Today we continue to have versions of bestiaries - now we call them alphabet books - and the most popular ones still teach us something about the world around us.
"Both of us were really close to our Gran Butler, Murn, as we called her, and her sister, our Auntie Jeannie. When we lived in Scotland and our mum and dad went out on a Saturday night, Murn and Jeannie would watch us. Both of them loved to dance, play games, and we'd always have a good laugh together.
The island where most of the novel takes place is a real place, called Large Cumbrae and ‘wee’ Cumbrae (off the coast of Largs), but for the purpose of Hollow Earth we changed the island’s geography and name. We named the island after Murn and the Abbey’s housekeeper after Auntie Jeannie." See more about the real islands that inspired Hollow Earth here.
A picture from Carole's trip to Large Cumbrae, which inspired the island of Auchinmurn in Hollow Earth.
Carole says, "While John was working on one of his TV shows in London I visited Large Cumbrae and took a lot of pictures. We had both been inspired by the island and knew we wanted to use it as a location for Hollow Earth. When I first saw this rock formation, it looked like a dinosaur breaking through the hillside. I knew we had to work it into the story."
Can you work out which section of Hollow Earth was inspired by this particular rock formation?
The Pencil Monument
One of the story's critical scenes happens at this monument, which is located south of Largs and commemorates the Battle of Largs between the Scots and the Vikings in 1263. Lots of battles with the Vikings happened in the area of Scotland. This picture shows Carole sitting under the monument's door.
The National Gallery
The National Gallery is located on Trafalgar Square in the heart of London. It houses a collection of over 2,300 paintings from Western Europe dating from the mid 13th Century to the 19th Centuries and it is free to visit the permanent collection, though some exhibitions require tickets. Georges Seurat’s ‘Bathers at Asnières’ is hung here.
Click here to explore the National Gallery.
Click here to go on a National Gallery adventure!
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, which Renard visits in Hollow Earth, boasts 22 galleries displaying an incredible 8,000 objects, and is Scotland’s most visited tourist attraction. Their collections include natural history, arms and armour and an extensive art collection.
Click here to visit the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum website.
The Royal Academy
In 1768 King George III of England founded the Royal Academy of Arts, which is located on Piccadilly in London. It had 34 founding members, including prominent artists and architects, who wanted to set a high standard for the arts. The academy is now both a venue for exhibitions and an art school.
Click here to visit the Royal Academy website.
Carole says, "On one of my earliest visits to London (many years ago), John was performing in the musical The Phantom of the Opera at a theatre just round the corner from The National Gallery. Sometimes after his matinee, he'd meet me there. We both always liked Seurat as an artist and as the inspiration for the muscial Sunday in the Park With George, so before I returned to the states after the trip, John bought me a print of 'Bathers at Asnières'. It still hangs in my hallway, and we both still visit The National Gallery whenever I visit."
Claude Monet, 'The Thames Below Westminster'
Monet was a French Impressionist artist who loved to paint London's parks and the River Thames, and he painted this view in around 1871, while Queen Victoria was on the throne. You can just make out the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Bridge through the mist. The painting now hangs in the National Gallery in London. In Bone Quill, this painting is the starting-point for an extraordinary experience for Matt, Em and Zach . . .
Paul Cezanne, 'Still Life with Skull, Candle and Book'
A still life painting is one that features objects rather than people or animals. This painting by Cezanne inspired John and Carole to create a similar painting that appears in Bone Quill. However, there is something rather unusual about that painting, so look out for its appearance!
Albrecht Dürer, 'Saint Jerome in his Study'
This engraving, by the German artist Albrecht Dürer, shows Saint Jerome in his study. Carole says, "We loved this engraving and it was in our minds when we were writing the sections of Bone Quill set in Brother Renard's cell in the Monastery of Era Mina in the Middle Ages."
Saint Jerome is often depicted in art, as he was an important figure in the early Christian church. He is usually either shown in the desert, where he lived alone as a hermit, or in a study because he translated the Bible into Latin. Wherever he is, there is usually a lion to be found somewhere in the picture because one of the stories told about him was how he tamed a lion by healing its paw, and it became his faithful companion. A version of this engraving is kept in the British Museum in London.
Joseph Mallord William Turner, 'Rain, Steam and Speed - The Great Western Railway
Turner was a hugely innovative artist and he painted this very modern picture of the new Victorian railway in 1844. It can be seen hanging in the National Gallery in London, which was where John and Carole spotted it. The feeling of speed, with the train rushing towards the viewer, inspired an exciting incident in Bone Quill, but we don't want to give too much away!
Marble Statue of Pan
In Bone Quill, a character enters the mysterious vault below the Abbey in which art by Animare from all through history is kept. Among works by famous painters like Turner and Matisse, there are also some sculptures and one is a bronze sculpture of a faun. This marble statue, which is now in the Louvre Museum in Paris, inspired John and Carole to create the faun. It actually shows the Greek god Pan, who is the god of nature and wild music.
Also in the vault are other mysterious sculptures. Why not see if you can imagine them and draw them for yourself?