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Eytinge, Solomon Jr. (1833-1905)

Actor, Artist, Illustrator

William Winter describes Solomon Eytinge, Jr. as "[a] man of original and deeply interesting character, an artist of exceptional facility, possessed of a fine imagination and great warmth of feeling [. . .] In his prime as a draughtsman he was distinguished for the felicity of his invention, the richness of his humor, and the tenderness of his pathos. He had a keen wit and was the soul of kindness and mirth” (Old Friends 317). Though he worked as a successful illustrator on the books of authors like Alcott, Browning, Tennyson, Harte, Holmes, Lowell, and Whittier, Eytinge is best-remembered as the illustrator who first used the motif of Tiny Tim perched on Bob Cratchit’s shoulders for an 1867 edition of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. In addition to illustrating other Dickens’ works including Bleak House, Dombey and Son, and A Tale of Two Cities, Eytinge also painted an oil portrait of the author during his second American tour from 1867-1868. According to William Winter, Dickens claimed that Eytinge "made the best illustrations for his novels and the best portrait of himself" (Old Friends 66).

As a measure of his critical and commercial success, Eytinge’s caricatures also began appearing regularly in Harper’s Weekly in the 1870s. Some of his sketches are redrawn from original work by Theodore Davis and W.H. Redding. His work addresses the theme of poverty as it existed in the city side-by-side with upper-class opulence. This theme occurs in "Hearth-stone of the poor-- waste steam not wanted" and in "Rich and Poor," both of which appeared in Harper’s in the early 1870s. He was also “celebrated for his humorous negro drawings of the 'Small Breed Family’” (Paine 21).

Etyinge illustrated the works of his fellow Pfaffians. He drew illustrations to accompany Charles Henry Webb’s Liffith Lank and St. Twel’mo, and contributed to the work of Thomas Bailey Aldrich, Bayard Taylor, and Fitz-James O’Brien. He also illustrated the work of Washington Irving who, along with Dickens and Poe, was a favorite writer of the Pfaff’s crowd. Eytinge can be considered a Pfaffian, but he was also a member of a Bohemian group that predated Pfaff’s. That group included Gayler, North, Bellew, Charles G. Rosenberg, Seymour, and O’Brien and, according to William Winter, "unlike the Pfaff’s coterie, was, after a fortuitous fashion, organized, and it had a name,--the remarkable name of the Ornithorhyncus Club." The club was named after a Duck-Billed Platypus (Old Friends 308).