J. J. Grandville illustrates ‘The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe’

J.J. Grandville – Self portrait

In 1719, Daniel Defoe published Robinson Crusoe,  one of the first novels written in the English language. At the time of its publication it was thought to be a true first hand account of the main characters travels. It remains one of the most translated works, second only to the Bible.

The Moruya Museum’s copy of The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe is the 1853 English edition . The French caricaturist and illustrator Jean-Jacques Grandville (1803-1847) is identified as the illustrator on the title page however  a much larger team of artists seem to have contributed illustrations, including (list via Penn Library) “Adolphe Best, Cherrier, Cowland, Hans, Aglae LaisneÌ, Nivet, J Quartley, Rambert, Sears, Verdeil, Lacoste et Fils, and Whitehead et Sheeres,”. Styles vary from  caricature to the more naturalistic.

Grandville’s wood engravings bring the characters and events to life in this book through ingenuity and  humour. His illustrations  usually display a keen analysis of character,

This beautifully illustrated edition (via Archive.org) of Defoe’s The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe is the French version of our book. The illustrations are the same.

Grandvllle turned almost exclusively to book illustration, supplying illustrations for various works including Don Quixote, Gulliver’s Travels and Robinson Crusoe after caricature was banned in France. 

Use the ZOOM function to study these intricate engravings,  The work in the last image of the sequence below ( canoes and palm trees) is particularly fine. Simply hover your cursor over the images.

Title page of ‘The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe’ By Daniel Defoe (1853) Illustrator J. J. Grandville MDHS Collection 500/165
‘The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe’ By Daniel Defoe (1853) Illustrator J. J. Grandville. MDHS Collection 500/165
‘The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe’ By Daniel Defoe (1853) Illustrator J. J. Grandville. MDHS Collection 500/165