Saturday, March 7, 2009

Staked Vampire Picture Source Revealed

In Daniel Farson's Mysterious Monsters (1978), there's a picture of a vampire with a stake embedded in its heart, the origin of which, I've never been able to locate.

It also appears in his earlier work, The Supernatural: Vampires, Zombies, and Monster Men (The Danbury Press, n.d. Originally published by Aldus Books, 1975) on page 22. The source given is vague ("22(BL) The Bettmann Archive", p. 144). The Bettmann Archive itself, only yields this info: "Engraving of the Death of a Vampire. PG6298| RM| © Bettmann/CORBIS."

The same image is replicated (albeit, in a highly manipulated form) on the front of the dust jacket to Wayne Bartlett & Flavia Idriceanu's Legends of Blood: The Vampire in History and Myth (Stroud, Gloucestershire: Sutton Publishing, 2005). The credit given on the back of the dust jacket is "engraving of Death of a Vampire (© Bettmann/CORBIS)".

However, I can now happily report that thanks to the wonders of eBay, I now know the title and artist of the picture!

While thoroughly browsing through it yesterday, I came across an entry headed, "Rare MONSTERS & MADONNAS William Mortensen 1948".

I was curious about its contents. So, with absolutely no intent of finding the image there (I was actually looking for books on vampires), I decided to have a browse.

And wouldn't you know it? Staring at me about midway in the page, in sepia-tone, was the image I've known for many years! It even had a link to a scan of the image.

Talk about serendipity.

It turns out the picture, called "The Vampire", was originally drawn by William Mortensen, and published in his 1936 folio, Monsters & Madonnas: A Book of Methods.

The edition being sold, by tinkerstale, is the fourth printing (1948) of the first edition.

If you'd like to know more about the book, have a read of Cary Loren's guest article, "Monsters and Madonnas - Looking at William Mortensen" for Will's Journey Round My Skull.

However, I am left with a bit of a mystery.

The image, as reproduced in Farson's books, are in colour.

I can only presume they were tinted by the books' designers or that Mortensen's original was in colour too. Or that Mortensen himself, obtained it elsewhere...

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