I recently received an advance copy of Drawing from History: The Forgotten Art of Fortunino Matania, which will be available soon. Full disclosure: I was asked to write the preface to the book, which I was glad to do, being a fan of his work for more than 30 years.
The book was ten years in the making. It's a giant volume, 10 x 13 inches (25 x 33 cm), 340 pages with 750 illustrations, many of which were taken from the original art.
Matania's illustrations portrayed everything from ancient Rome to English Royalty to contemporary life in the early 20th century, all visualized with authoritative detail.
Lucinda Gosling's introduction to the book tells the story of Matania's life, as well as his working method for producing a great number of watercolor and wash drawings under tight deadlines. Sometimes he did so with the help of props and models, and sometimes he worked entirely from his rich imagination.
Matania's World War I illustrations, made with the aid of interviews with veterans and visits to battlefields, are well represented in the book.
There is also a good sampling of Matania's lesser-known science fiction pictures. He illustrated several science fiction novels, such as "Pirates of Venus" and "Lost on Venus" by Edgar Rice Burroughs, and "When Worlds Collide" by Edwin Balmer and Phillip Wylie.
His imaginative work has a steampunk feel that was a big inspiration to 20th century illustrators like Frank Frazetta, Al Williamson, and Roy Krenkel.
This book is a comprehensive resource for concept artists and storyboarders who want references on a variety of historical scenes, and also an inspiration for academic artists who want to develop their imaginative muscles.
Resources and Links
Drawing from History: The Forgotten Art of Fortunino Matania is
taking advance orders currently listed as not available at Amazon, but the publisher's website in the U.K. says it's taking orders. Part of the edition is a boxed set that's limited to 100 copies, as well as a standard hardcover edition for £60.00.
There's also a Special issue on Matania in Illustrator's Magazine.
If you're a collector, you might want to check out the catalog of original works and prints by Matania produced as a companion volume for £20.00.
Fortunino Matania on Wikipedia