Mark S Payne

La Guerre des Mondes


Medium: Oil on Canvas

Measurements: W 76cm x H 101cm

Stock: Available by Appointment


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Mark S Payne original oil painting ‘La Guerre des Mondes’

Signed: M S Payne

Supplied with a certificate of authenticity

Please note the dimensions of this work framed are approximately H 107cm x W 82cm

Please do not hesitate to contact the gallery for further assistance

Calmann-Levy, Paris 1912. Jacket design by Louis Strimpl

H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds is one of the greatest sci-fi / horror stories of all time. This particular publication is a rare, delicate, French paperback edition by Parisian editor-publishers Calmann-Levy.

The planet Mars is nearing exhaustion, it’s dying. The Martians, decide to seize the young, bountiful planet Earth for their own use, regarding its current occupants as wholly dispensable. Landing in several locations in the south-east of England, they begin their conquest. Can man, with his most advanced nineteenth century weaponry (bear in mind, Wells wrote this book back in 1898) hope to stop the Martians with their much more advanced technology?

As one of the finest examples of nineteenth century fantasy-fiction, this book contains a gripping tale that masterfully combines horror and suspense.

Mark describes his love for books. Real books, as tactile objects that you can feel the weight of in your hands, leaf through, and into which you can simply disappear. Of course, like most booklovers, the excitement of a new novel, especially of a favourite author, is always an occasion to be savoured. But I find the books I treasure most become old friends. I love to revisit them, and celebrate down the years their graceful journey as they age – so often to marvel at their maturity, and sometimes to stand back with wonder as my youthful friend has become a classic! I love the feel of these my inanimate friends, who live with me and in me so vividly. Their stories, their feel, their warmth and their comfortable familiarity, – it is all these qualities that inspire me to paint them.

Most of the books I’ve painted are very old and have had many owners, yet their fine condition suggests a much pampered life in careful hands. Others have not been so lucky. With creaking spines, dog-eared and with fading colour, they may be battle-scarred, but they are still as precious. Many of the books I paint are now quite rare and sourcing them has required great patience, while others, I’ve simply stumbled upon, languishing unnoticed and un-remembered on dusty shelves in second-hand book shops. But, good design is timeless and as precious as what is contained in the treasure between the covers. These books, I am deeply convinced, deserve to be noticed.

While wanting to honour and pay tribute to the original jacket designers and their unquestionable talents, my paintings are portraits of some very old, well-loved books, the way they are now. Novels, poetry, history and a range of subjects all attract my interest. It may not be possible to judge a book by its cover each and every time, but a great engraving or a modern jacket certainly promises much.

The paintings themselves are much larger than life with every tear, crease and blemish, carefully and accurately recorded. You see my aim is not just to reproduce the original cover artwork like a poster. It is to paint the whole book as a real, three-dimensional object with all its imperfections – the evidence of life – so that when mounted and sensitively lit, the illusion is created of a real, giant 3D book. It really is a living thing.

Born in Luton, Mark studied technical and scientific illustration for four years. After graduation he became a member of the Society of Illustrators, Artists and Designers (SIAD). Since then, he has had a full and demanding 33 year career as a full-time artist and illustrator, producing work for numerous national and international publishers, advertising agencies and galleries.

Mark works with oils, using a variation of the early painting technique known as ‘Grisaille’, a practice used by many of the old masters. Generally, it starts with a monochrome under-painting, usually in shades of grey or ochre, on a white surface. Once fully dry, it is painted over with successive layers of transparent colour known as ‘glazes’. Each new glaze changes the optical qualities of the layers beneath, resulting in a richness and purity of colour that is otherwise very hard to achieve.

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