ADVENTURE VI. - THE MAN WITH THE TWISTED LIP
BY A. CONAN DOYLE
"The Man With the Twisted Lip" represents a good opportunity to study the techniques of Sidney Paget in his illustrations.
Holmes is pictured above in profile, displaying his best features of determination in his angular face. Both hands are slightly clenched in the classical pose of sculptured thinkers. His brow slopes to a jutting nose and chin, and the pipe "between his lips" intersects the angles of this face.
The picture itself is framed in gentle curves with the top of the picture roundly framing the curve of Holme's forehead, and the sides curving around and complementing the loosely fitting oversized robe bunched comfortably about him. It is an image that at once suggest repose and thought: strength and comfort.
The drawing itself has the texture of water color or charcoal surrounding the sharpness of pen and ink.
My favorite image. And probably Paget's and Doyle's as well as it is repeated at the end of the FINAL PROBLEM as the memorial portrait.
It is also one of the most common frames used by Paget - angular lines cross crossing the picture surrounded by curves.
This format is most effectively used when introducing the soft Victorian feminine fantasy creatures of "little blondes" in a "mouseline de soie with a touch of pink chiffon at her neck and wrists." Absent the ability to produce blond and pink, Paget provides soft curves and light shades as he draws and frames Mrs. St. Clair. Notice the straightened figure of Mrs. St. Clair crossing the fire place lines across from Holme's rounded figure and chair.
Paget varies this framework by sometimes adding a
straightened edge to the side of the image to emphasize the purity of the
line. In the above tow images of Holmes at the brazier, the first
is the rounded edges playing off of Holme's stooped back and head, while
the second features a straightened left edge aligned with Watson's erect
stance. The far edges curve and reflect the curves of Holme's body.
In the third and final image of the story, the straightened edge frames
the standing men, while the crouched Neville St. Clair is softened by the
curve of the frame; the bed frame itself offers a corner piece for
Paget also employed full frames for some image. The strength and terror of Lascar standing above Mrs. St. Clair is heightened by the three sided frame which is rounded only at the end. The darkness of the scene and the skin of Lascar contrasts gtreatly with the coloration of Mrs. St. Clair in a scene where she stands above Holmes with no menace.
The jail cell scene is fully boxed and, save the stooping figure of Holmes and the humongous sponge he carries in a rounded case, , is composed of a series of straight lines emphasizing the solid jail cell behind which Mr. St. Clair rests beneath is disguise.
Paget reinterprets and reinforces Doyle's Holmes and his adventures in subtle ways, framing and shading being two often overlooked but very informative keys to the beauties of the canon.