My first exposure to A Princess of Mars was the Ballantine paperback edition, whose cover was graced with a painting by Robert Abbott which, reproduced as it was in a tiny square on a tiny book, didn’t really impress me terribly at the time. Here is that cover, at more or less the same size of the book:
Recently I had an occasion to see a huge, high resolution scan of that same piece of art and it literally took my breath away.
This is a much lower resolution scan — but is sufficiently high to show the beauty of the work.
First — an insert of Dejah Thoris:
I was stunned to really be able to see it, and to realize what Abbett had done. The insert above hardly does it justice, but at least you can get the basic idea. So many interesting choices — less exotic than many representations of Dejah — but the eyes, and the lips, and the quiet dignity, all work together to create an alluring quality that really transports the viewer if you let it.
And now the full piece. Click to see it larger.
And while I’m singing the praises of Abbett — his Thuvia, Maid of Mars:
For those unfamiliar — here is Abbett’s bio.
Robert Kennedy Abbett (b. 1926, Hammond, Indiana) is an American artist and illustrator. During the late-1950s, 1960s and 1970s, Robert Abbett illustrated book covers for war novels, detective novels, thrillers, historical fiction and science fiction. Today, Abbett is best known for his paintings of wildlife (in particular, dogs), wilderness, sporting, and fishing.
His illustrations have been featured in a large number of books, magazines, and advertising. He has also authored or been featured in several art-related books, including A Season for Painting: The Outdoor Paintings of Robert K. Abbett and Wings from Cover: The Upland Images of Robert Abbett and Ed Gray.
Abbett is a graduate of both the University of Missouri and Purdue University. In 1953, Abbett moved to rural Connecticut where he built a house on an old farm (namely, Oakdale Farm). There, Abbett was inspired by the untouched wilderness and forests, and began painting what he has become famous for today: animals and countrylife.
If you would like to learn more about Abbett — as with all things Burroughs — the place to go is EBRzine.com.
Here is the ERBzine page on Abbett: http://www.erbzine.com/mag3/0301.html
And another ERBzine page featuring Abbett’s Tarzan artwork: http://www.erbzine.com/mag33/3353.html