Readers of Jules Verne's early science-fiction classic From the Earth to the Moon (De la terre à la lune) — which left the Baltimore Gun Club's bullet-shaped projectile, along with its three passengers and dog, hurtling through space — had to wait a whole five years before learning the fate of its heroes. Not only were they rewarded for their patience by a fine continuation of the space adventure (which we won't spoil by describing here), but also with the addition of a superb series of wood engravings to illustrate the tale. The set of images — arguably the very first to depict space travel on a scientific basis — were the work of the French illustrators Émile-Antoine Bayard and Alphonse de Neuville, though its the former's contributions, which depict scenes involving space, which we've focused on for this post. Despite the brilliance and vision of these illustrations, it is for a wholly more terrestrial image for which Bayard is best known today — a sketch of the sad-eyed Cosette sweeping, which he completed for the original edition of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables (1865), and which for the last four decades or so, Tricolour-infused, has adorned playbills and theatre hoardings the world over in service of Claude-Michel Schönberg's hugely popular musical, "Les Mis".
PS: You'll perhaps notice that the scans featured below are not of the best quality. They are the best we could find online which have no restrictions on their re-use (a slightly better scan here at BnF but they sadly have restrictive re-use). If you've a copy of the work, and would be up for scanning it, please do get in touch!
Imagery from this post is featured in
our special book of images created to celebrate 10 years of The Public Domain Review.
500+ images – 368 pages
Large format – Hardcover with inset image