I love these spooky and playful shadow illustrations from 1856. In Shadows, Charles H. Bennett presents illustrations of everyday people with silly, bizarre, and sometimes menacing shadows. For example, In “An Old Goose” a woman with a pointy nose and a sun hat casts the shadow of an angry goose. In “A Skeleton”, a stretching woman sitting on a chair casts the shadow of a skeleton with its arms in the air.
The concept for this book makes me think of all the times I’ve seen a creepy shadow in my room, turned on the light in a panic, and then realized it was just a benign object such as a coat rack, playing tricks on my eyes.
From The Public Domain Review:
“Coming events cast their shadows before”, reads the caption for Charles H. Bennett’s frontispiece; it shows a young child dipping into a pot of preserves as a raised hand foreshadows punishment. The twenty-two other portraits in Shadows (1856) paint human nature in strokes nearly as dark, the cleverly manipulated silhouettes revealing drunks, killjoys, gluttons, fools, and minor monsters. Christened “Cheerful Charley” by his Savage Club compatriots — and recalled (after his early death at thirty-nine in 1867) by his fellow Punchmen as “the kindest and gentlest of our associates” — Bennett’s satirical sensibility in Shadows is relentless, even if intended as light-hearted moralism. “
(Image from the public domain rev.)