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More on the unknown artist of the Lotus edition 1918

April 28, 2018

Bob Forrest has sent us his comments on the questions raised in the previous post concerning the identity of the artist who illustrated the Lotus Library edition of the Rubaiyat, published in 1918.  Bob has not yet had a chance to see the detail of Danton O’Day’s analysis suggesting that the artist could be Mera K Sett, and he reaches a different conclusion.  Bob writes:

Fig.1 – Lotus ed, v.20


As regards Mera K. Sett being the illustrator of the Lotus Edition, the thought had crossed my mind as well at one point, though I personally came to doubt it, despite some resemblances in style & symbolism (queer faces & peacocks / peacock feathers etc – see Figs. 1 & 2.)

For a start, Sett was more than happy to name himself as illustrator in both the book version and the folio version of his Rubaiyat, as well as in his other book, Sculptured Melodies. So, if he illustrated the Lotus edition, why not put his name to that as well ? But more than that, the page following the title page of the Lotus edition tells that this book offers “New Lamps for Old lit by” an artist identified by a monogram (Fig.3). Read vertically it seems to read W.G.S, though if one turns it 90 degrees clockwise, it could possibly, though less convincingly, be read U.G. E – my own preference is for W.G.S. Either way, Mera K. Sett is not  in evidence.

Fig.3 – Lotus ed


Fig.2 – Sett v.46


Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to discover the identity of W.G.S. I have seen it suggested that the monogram of the Lotus edition consists of the first two initials of the artist W. G. Mein, the S being simply an underlining flourish. But, quite aside from the huge stylistic differences between Mein’s output and the Lotus edition, W.G. Mein variously signed his book illustrations “Will. G. Mein” or “W. Gordon Mein”, and though he did occasionally use a monogram, it was that shown in Figs.4a & 4b – W. G. and M. together (Fig.4a is from Christie Deas, Pan o’ the Pipes, probably published in 1913, the accession date of the copy in the British Library.)

Fig.4a W Gordon Mein

Fig.4b W Gordon Mein monogram









Personally, I think it safest to say at this stage that the Lotus edition was illustrated by an unknown artist with the initials W.G.S.

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