The Fantastical Baron Von Münchhausen

The Fantastical Baron Von Münchhausen

Summary: A Quixotic Journey from Doré to Don Quixote leading to an illustration of Baron Von Münchhausen

It was a dark and stormy night.

Well, it was dark at least, and I was doing some late night internet ramblings into The Public Domain Review website which a friend had turned me on to. The website is really fun to dig through! I highly encourage exploring it for yourself. I had come across an article titled “Picturing Don Quixote” with luscious illustrations by Gustave Doré. Now, I didn’t know that he’d done illustrations for Don Quixote, but like everything else he’s seemingly done, they were gorgeous.

Gustave Doré’s depiction of Don Quixote amid his fantasies of chilvaric romance, the frontispiece to the 1863 Paris Hachette edition.

In the way that one things leads to another, I began thinking about Terri Gilliam’s film about Don Quixote, and that then lead to thoughts of his film about Baron Von Münchhausen. Seemingly these two characters are cut from the same cloth.

There is something that is really appealing about the absurdity of their unfettered romanticism in the face of the wide world. It is quintessentially Gilliamesque.

Once the idea of the Baron occurred to me and I realized that these are public domain stories, I began to do some internet research with half a mind towards a new project. I discovered that the original stories are based on a real guy, and that there is a museum that is dedicated to the Baron in Latvia. There have been many incarnations of these stories. I love that the Baron, and the situations that he finds himself in, became wilder with each version.

Days later, as I was listening to an audio book reading of the original stories, I drew this picture of the Baron riding a cannon ball. This seems to be a favorite scene for illustrators as there are many versions of it out there. Shamelessly I worked from an old photo that was for a movie poster and created this scene.

Initial sketch of Baron Von Münchhausen. Pencil and watercolor.

Shortly there after, an invitation arrived to participate in an art show called 100.100.100, hosted by The Sketchbook Gallery in San Francisco. The only requirement was that the image needed to be 10×10″. Going back to my sketchbook, I bagan reworking this image.

Colored pencil development sketch.
Final line drawing on vellum.

Sure, I’m no Gustav Doré, but I do like to have some fun from time to time!

One more note for you lovers of illustration out there, check out the moon that I borrowed from George Herriman. There are a bunch of little details, the shoe, the turning edge of gold on the glove, the gang of three at the cannon, etc, that I really enjoyed putting into this piece. This won’t be the last we hear of good old Baron Von Münchhausen!

Thank you for reading.
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2 Responses to The Fantastical Baron Von Münchhausen

  1. Awesome. You live for putting in all those Easter Eggs, don’tcha. Beautiful illustration and great attention to detail as always, Brian!

  2. Ha! Yes, in fact I do love putting those details into my work Bonnie! I find that it helps to make it a little more personal, and a lot more fun!

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