The Master's Common Room, 1974
Charles W. Stewart (1915 - 2001)
RA Collection: Art
This unpublished series of drawings from 1974 by Charles Stewart were to illustrate Mervyn Peake's 1950 novel, Gormenghast, the second in a trilogy of fantasy novels by Mervyn Peake. Set in the castle of Gormenghast, the novel follows the heir Titus from the age of seven whose life is dictated by the rituals of the castle. In the novel Steerpike, the ambitious kitchen boy, kills Barquetine the master of ritual, to take his place. The illustrations accompany events and characters throughout the story, such as 'The Master's Common Room', which depicts Titus' teachers who provide humour in the story. The Royal Academy Collections also include a series of illustrations for the first novel in the series, Titus Groan.
Charles Stewart's interest in the gothic is rooted in his childhood spent in a Victorian mansion in Scotland, which he described as "lit by oil lamps and candles … to a small child it seemed a giant's castle… ghosts were largely taken for granted by the inhabitants." Stewart studied at the Byam Shaw School of Drawing and Painting in London from 1932 where he became joint principal in 1955. As a student he was also a professional ballet dancer but the art school's principal made him choose between ballet and drawing prompting Stewart to focus on the latter.
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