A SCIENCE FICTION INCUNABULUM
ALVIM CORRÊA'S ORIGINAL DRAWINGS
H.G. WELLS - THE WAR OF THE WORLDS
One of the most striking and the best known of the few science-fiction works to appear in the nineteenth century is undoubtedly H. G. Well's The War of the Worlds which was first published in book form in 1898 with illustration by Warwick Goble. Subsequently many versions of this tale have been published in various magazines and books but most of them are devoid of much artistic merit or originality as far as the illustrations are concerned.
However, there was one edition, in 1906, which was outstanding for its excellence of production and especially for its illustrations which were fantastic in their conception and impeccable in their execution. This was in the form of a french translation made by Davray and published in Brussels by L.VANDAMME with illustrations by Alvim Correa.
Because Alvim Correa is by no means as generally well-known as his talent and originality merit it seems desirable to give some account of his life - specially as he can be found referred to in various references as being French, Belgian, Russian or Brazilian!
The fact is that Alvim Correa was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1876. He suffered the misfortune of losing his father, a prominent lawyer, at an early age in 1883 and the following year we find him a resident at a fashionable private college in Nova Friburgo (State of Rio de Janeiro). From letters written to his mother during this period we can deduce that he was already beginning to suffer symptoms of tuberculosis - a disease that was for all practicable purposes incurable in those days and which finally doomed him to a premature death at the age of only 34 years.
In 1887 he accompanied his mother on a trip to Paris and in 1888 she married a widowed and rich bankerfinancier named José Mendez de Oliveira Castro who was, the next year, elevated to the rank of Baron - on the eve of the declaration of the Republic. The wealthy Baron was understandably uncomfortable as a monarchist, in the agitated times that characterised the early of the young republic in the Capital (Rio de Janeiro) and he therefore decided to move himself and his, by then, rather large family to Lisbon in 1892 where Alvim was enrolled in one of the best colleges offered by the city. However, after a year the Baron decided to move to Paris where he was to settle permanently.
Whilst in Brazil the Baroness had mantained a wide circle of friends of artistic bent and included a number of composers, painters, writers, etc. and continued to so in Paris. It is clear that these activities of hers must have had a decisive influence on Alvim's eventual choise of a vocation. We find him becoming a frequent and regular visitor to the atelier of Edouard Detaille who was a recognised and official painter of military subjects and had a great influence on the young Correa. He was also an assiduous visitor to the studio of Jean Brunet, a well-known painter of historical subjects. Thus, although born in Brazil, there he spent his childhood, it would seem proper to consider him as belonging to the European, and in particular the Franco-Belgic art stream rather than that of South America.
The year 1896 was marked by the death of Alvim's stepfather and also by the first exhibition of one of his paintings at the Paris Salon under the aegis of Detaille. The following year he sent to the Salon a picture dealing with a martial subject which attracted much attention from both the critics and the public due to its heroic size (4.00 x 2.50 m.) as well as the subject and its excellent execution.
In 1898 in spite of the strong objections of the whole family he married Blanche Fernande Brabant, the 17-year old daughter of the skilful engraver Charles Brabant and the couple moved to Brussels where their first son was born. As was to be expected Alvim suffered severe financial pressures from having suddenly removed himself from all of his family and connections. He was forced to accept all sorts of commercial art employment and even did some house painting in order to sustain his little family. But by 1900 his economic position had improved and he was able to instal himself comfortably in a house in Boitsfort - a suburb of Brussels. Whilst there he not only exercised his artistics talents of drawing and painting but also gave rein to the strong literary streak in his make-up by writing lengthy letters and essays on many different topics and even produced drafts of several theatrical pieces
Artistically he was particularily adept at executing works of a caricatural or parodial nature as well as subjects dealing with terror or of an erotic nature. Some of the latter showing quite a cruel streak. As recently as 1985 several of these remarkable drawings were strikingly employed by the Brazilian poetess Yêda Schmalts (Baco e Anas Brasileiras, Rio de Janeiro). In many cases such productions were signed by his alter ego Henri Lemort and using as a signature the initial "H.L."overlaid with the outline of a skull or a dainty lady's high heel shoe! There is no doubt that in his early years he was still much under the influence of his teachers and tended towards scenes of violence which may have predisposed him to attempt to illustrate Wells' masterpiece which he must have seen in the French version by Davray which appeared in the Mercure de France.
Be that as it may we find him travelling to England in 1903 where he sought out H.G.Wells in order to show him sketches that he had prepared of his conception of illustrations for a proposed new edition of the The War of the Worlds. It is known that the great author was impressed both by the extraordinary imagination shown by the young artist as well as the excellence of the execution of the sketches.
In 1905 Alvim travelled back to London in order to show Wells the finished drawings for the projected book and these were accepted. Also in this year he mounted an exhibition of his works in Brussels which attracted considerable interest. However, by this time his health had deterioraded considerably and he was forced to retire to Switzerland for some months - Where he underwent major surgery in order to try to minimize the advance of tuberculosis in his lungs and intestines. From this operation he made a recovery but his health entered into a period of continual decline and thence forward he was forced to reduce considerably the amounty of work that he could accomplish in any given day.
Nevertheless 1906 provided him with the great satisfaction of seeing the publisher L.Vandamme of Brussels issue a beautiful, large format edition of Wells' book profusely illustrated and with 32 "hors texte"of this drawings and limited to 500 copies numbered and signed by the artist. This edition is very much sought after and the most recent quotation that we have noted is US$ 4.000 at Catalogue 21, Fine Books, from Dr. A. Flühmann, (2004).
Actually these drawings are a landmark in many ways and have never been subject of the study that they deserve.
What is now being offered for sale is the following:
1) A set of 31 out of 32 of the ORIGINAL ARTIST'S DRAWINGS of the illustrations "hors texte" for the 1906 Brussels edition of the book, made by L. VANDAMME, limited special edition of 500 copies, each one autographed by the artist.
Preço sob consulta Price upon request Prix sur demande
Bibliography, Biography, News.
Dictionnaire Critique... des Peintres,Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs
etc.. Bénezit ,vol.I
Henrique Alvim Corrêa 1876 - 1910
Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
of Corrêa’s Work,
– São Paulo. Museu de Arte “Assis Chateaubriand” (MASP).
"É com grande prazer que anuncio a primeira exposição norte-americana de desenhos originais do artista brasileiro Henrique Alvim Corrêa (Alvim Corrêa) publicados na edição especial L'Vandamme (Bélgica) da Guerra dos Mundos (HG Wells) em 1906. O interesse na Guerra dos Mundos está re-nascendo devido ao novo filme a ser produzido por Steven Spielberg e Tom Cruise em 2005. Assim, achei que esse material seria ideal para ser passado no Planeta Brasil.
O Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, localizado em Seattle, Washington (EUA) foi fundado por Paul Allen (Microsoft) em Junho de 2004 e é o primeiro e único museu deste genero no mundo. No dia 30/10 a SFM inaugurara, uma exibição especial comemorando a Guerra dos Mundos onde destacarão as obras do Alvim Corrêa.
Alvim Corrêa nasceu no Rio de Janeiro em 1876. Em 1892, a família mudou-se para Europa para escapar do tumulto do inicio da primeira republica brasileira. Lá, ele se tornou aprendiz do artista plástica J. Edouard Detaille, um mestre reconhecido pela sua obras sobre a vida militar francesa. Em 1903, após ler a Guerra dos Mundos, o jovem Corrêa viajou para Londres, onde apresentou os seus conceitos de extra-terrestres ao próprio HG Wells. O autor ficou tão impressionado com a visão do artista que convidou-o para ilustrar a edição especial da obra que seria publicada pela L'Vandamme (Bélgica). O mesmo foi lançado em 1906 em apenas 500 exemplares assinados. Das ilustrações, o HG Wells comentou que "o Corrêa fez mais pela obra com o seu pincel do que eu com a minha pena."