Moriarty

“You have probably never heard of Professor Moriarty?” said [Holmes].

“Never.”

“Aye, there’s the genius and the wonder of the thing!” he cried. “The man pervades London, and no one has heard of him. That’s what puts him on a pinnacle in the records of crime. I tell you, Watson, in all seriousness, that if I could beat that man, if I could free society of him, I should feel that my own career had reached its summit, and I should be prepared to turn to some more placid line in life.”

Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Final Problem

THE NEXT plate that I’ve come to in my drawings from Sidney Paget’s illustrations to Sherlock Holmes is his portrait of the ‘Napoleon of Crime’, Professor Moriarty.

Last month I drew on the ledge at the Reichenbach Falls which features in Paget’s illustration ‘The Death of Sherlock Holmes’. The engraving is signed, in block capitals ‘SIDNEY PAGET, 1893’. The misty gothic background to the duel is a reasonably accurate depiction of the Falls themselves.

Drawing from the originals makes me appreciate Paget’s skill as an illustrator and his lasting contribution to our image of Holmes.

Moriarty reminds me of Max Wall (1908-1990), in his variety turn as the manically musical Professor Wallofski.

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