Alien drawing from 1906 edition of War of the Worlds sells for $32k

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Steampunk?! What kind of an idiot uses the word, well, it’s not even a word “steampunk” in relation to this or anything?! This bizarre notion that modern trends have anything to do with what things were like seems ridiculous to me. In the same way recently someone on this site decried Game of Thrones’ failure to accurately reflect the historical period it represents.Apparently internet reporting is now a free-for-all rampage of buffoons who know nothing of which they speak.

I suggest lying down with a cool washcloth on your forehead.


Still - they’ve got a point there. Calling these illustrations “steampunk” is like calling a game from the 80s “retro”.

The author did use scare quotes.

A game from the 80s wasn’t retro in the 80s, but it is now. More to the point, people who do like steampunk are likely to be deliberately cultivating a style influenced by late 19th and early 20th century art and fiction, so they’re likely to be keen to see these drawings. Putting in the word that they’re likely to use in a casual Web search is not so unreasonable.

These drawings for The War of the Worlds are beautiful. I can see how they are highly prized. As for whether or not the drawings can be described as steampunk or not, it probably has to do with whether or not we can make judgments about art using a newer style to think about older ones. It may be more useful to look into how the drawings may have characteristics that evoke steampunk. It is often the case that older works of art have stylistic qualities that only become canonized into a genre only later. Perhaps it is like looking for elements of the Gothic in Greek Architecture or Abstract Expressionism in Cycladic Art or something like that. Maybe. I am not sure. It does make me think about how we go about doing art criticism.

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