From its founding in 1973 until its closing in 2000 The Franklin Library produced public domain classic books, releasing series such as The Franklin Library of Mystery Masterpieces. Often released in parallel series including leather bound and a non-leather bound (leatherette), the books were handsomely bound and included illustrations from contemporary illustrators.
American artist, illustrator, and painter Herbert Tauss (1929 – 2001) was specially commissioned to create a series of moody, dramatic, blue-hued interior illustrations for The Franklin Library’s 1988 publication of the 1974 spy novel Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by British author John le Carré. It follows the endeavors of taciturn, aging spymaster George Smiley to uncover a Soviet mole in the British Secret Intelligence Service. Since the time of its publication, the novel has received critical acclaim for its complex social commentary and lack of sensationalism, and remains a staple of the spy fiction genre.
Tauss created this mixed media illustration on artist’s paper with a combination of watercolor or possibly gouache and graphite. The cool blue hue and the stark visuals between color and gray tones create an aura of mystery and drama as a man sits slumped over, his body illuminated by the flashlight beams coming from disembodied heads moving in out of the darkness of the blue background. A striking and ominous scene.
This illustration appears on page 257 of The Franklin Library book and marks the beginning of Part III, Chapter 30.
Tauss’s drawings, paintings and sculptures have won awards from the Society of Illustrators and the Art Directors Club of New York City. He was inducted into the Illustrators Hall of Fame in 1996. His works are included in the collections of the United States Department of the Interior and his rendering of the Apollo 11 Moon shot was shown in the Smithsonian.
Born in New York City, he attended the High School of Industrial Art, and upon graduating, secured an apprenticeship at the Traeger Phillips Studio. His first illustrations were made in 1949 for Pageant magazine, following by work for other publications which included American Weekly, Argosy, The Saturday Evening Post, Redbook, National Geographic, Parents and McCall’s magazines.
He Joined the Charles E. Cooper Studio in 1955 and when the illustration markets began to constrict in the early 1960s, he moved to England to work for the British market. He returned to the U.S. in the early 1970s and became prolific in the paperback market when, among other things, he illustrated the series of historical novels, the Kent Family Chronicles, which sold over 40 million copies. He also illustrated several limited edition books for the Franklin Library. Tauss taught at the School of Visual Arts, Pratt Institute, Marymount College and the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.
This illustration on artist’s paper has been taped down to board and is framed by a loose mat that is not adhered. The bottom margin of the mat includes a Franklin Library sticker with handwritten publication notations. This is unsigned by the artist.