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Willy Pogany and the Rubaiyat of 1942

February 18, 2022
Pogany 1942 (Quatrain 3, FitzGerald 4th ed)

Willy Pogany (1882-1955) is one of the best known of the illustrators of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and also one of the most frequently published, with copies of his work being republished right throughout the twentieth century. He actually produced three separate portfolios of illustrations for the poem, which were first published in 1909, 1930 and 1942 respectively. Of these three, the last is quite remarkably different in style and content, and many researchers have been curious about the reasons for the changes and the place of the 1942 illustrations in Pogany’s work generally.

Bob Forrest has been studying this question and has provided important insights into the pattern of development of Pogany’s work on the Rubaiyat. In setting out the results of his investigation, Bob shows that the 1942 portfolio has links with other work being carried out by the artist, especially in the 1930’s and ’40’s, and possibly with that of other artists working in the field. He also clarifies the dating of some of the many reissues of Pogany’s work in this period.

The full presentation of Bob’s research is in an article on his web site, see http://www.bobforrestweb.co.uk/The_Rubaiyat/N_and_Q/Willy_Pogany/Willy_Pogany.htm. It contains many images of Pogany’s varied work, with interpretations, and it is well worth reading. Once again, our thanks to Bob for sharing the results of his investigations.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. hdgreavesauthoroutlookcom permalink
    February 18, 2022 2:58 pm

    Hello, my name is Harold DeCourcy Greaves, writing as HD Greaves, with books on Amazon and elsewhere. When I was a young man of seventeen (I’m now 83) an English teacher who became a dear friend and eventually godmother to my son had a copy of the Rubaiyat illustrated by Willy Pogany. It was a lavish copy, bound entirely in pink satin (or perhaps silk) and boxed. Needless to say….! This fine lady is now long gone and I’ve no idea what happened to her Rubaiyat. I’m mentioning this because I have not been able anywhere on the internet to find out anything about a copy of the Rubaiyat illustrated by Pogany that was bound in pink satin/silk. To this day all these years later I remember it with awe. And of course, having been introduced to Omar, I’ve become a long time friend of his quatrains. On Amazon, I’ve written a Preface and formatted an edition containing all of FitzGerald’s five editions along with FitzGerald’s notes and bio of Omar. My edition has no illustrations. It is available on Amazon as a paperback and hardback on my page: HD Greaves. As an addendum to this, in 1969 I was pleased to meet and get to know Willy Pogany’s son, John, who at that time was teaching Art at Peninsula Community College in Port Angeles, Washington, and who had one of his father’s original illustrations on the wall of his office. When I saw it, my heart skipped a beat. Thank you for your fine article! Please look me up on Amazon. All the best! H.D. Greaves, Port of Spain, Trinidad
    ________________________________

  2. February 19, 2022 2:09 pm

    Many thanks for your message. It is possible that the lady you mention had her treasured copy professionally re-bound in pink satin / silk, which wold explain why you have never found a duplicate. You could perhaps identify the edition by going through the illustrations in my article & seeing which tally with your memories. Are you still in contact with John Pogany or any other relative of the artist ? There seems to be no collection of Pogany papers anywhere, so it would be interesting to make a contact with a family member if possible.

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