Halloween in the Spring. A Series: Sleepy Hollow

Felix Octavis Carr Darley, illustration and etching. Plate 1. from Washington Irving, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, 1850. Published by the American Art Union, by subscription. Metropolitan Museum of Art. CCO1.0 Universal, Public Domain.


NOTE: This series, "Halloween in the Spring," is based on the posts I wrote for my Halloween 2020 Take-Over of AHNCA's (Art Historians of Nineteenth Century Art) social media accounts. It's a jolly bit of writing and the inspiration for this blog. I've left the posts almost identical to the originals to preserve the rollicking tone; however, I've added links to the original sources, museum websites, or other information you, dear reader, might find interesting. In some cases, like today's entry, I am going to post the original writing before I edited it to "fit" an Instagram post. Without further ado, it's time to celebrate Halloween in February! 

"The immediate cause, however, of the prevalence of supernatural stories in these parts, was doubtless owing to the vicinity of Sleepy Hollow. There was a contagion in the very air that blew from that haunted region; it breathed forth an atmosphere of dreams and fancies infecting all the land."
Greetings Ghoulies and Ghosties, and welcome to AHNCA’s Halloween Takeover. Let me introduce myself. I’m AHNCA’s Secretary and resident spooky Goth gal. While my scholarly interests focus on mundane things like art education, illustration, and the domestic interior, I have a passion for all things macabre and magical: funerary art, mourning outfits and jewelry, witchcraft and paganism, spiritualism and the occult, and Halloween. Let’s just say, I’m interested in all phases of 19th century life — birth, life, death, and the afterlife. MWHAHAHAHA … ahem.

Go make yourself a cup of tea and get comfortable over here by the fire. I have ghastly stories to tell this week … stories of angry Army colonels and a Headless Horseman, of Robber Barons who are in deep, eternal sleep, and of mischief and magic.


Kelly Lucero, photographer. Washington Irving’s grave. NYHistoric.com

Today we’re going to start with one of Sleepy Hollow’s famous residents, Washington Irving (1783-1859), and his famous short story, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." Let’s visit the dear fellow at his graveside. Washington Irving is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, NY in a family plot close to the Old Dutch Church (founded 1685). His simple marble headstone is honored with American flags and a veteran’s marker. He did, after all, serve in the War of 1812. Every year in October, visitors leave small pumpkins and mums at the entrance of the plot, a fitting tribute to the man who gave us the chilling story of a hapless schoolmaster and his encounter with the maleficent Headless Horseman.


Felix Octavis Carr Darley, illustration and etching. Plate 2. from Washington Irving, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, 1850. Published by the American Art Union, by subscription. Metropolitan Museum of Art. CCO1.0 Universal, Public Domain.

Felix Octavis Carr Darley, illustration and etching. Plate 3. from Washington Irving, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, 1850. Published by the American Art Union, by subscription. Metropolitan Museum of Art. CCO1.0 Universal, Public Domain.

Irving’s "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" was first published in an unillustrated collection of essays entitled The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. in 1820. In 1849-50, the American illustrator, Felix O. C. Darley (1822-1888), created a series of of twelve illustrations based on the story for the American Art Union. In 1850, the American Art Union published two special editions of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" with Darley’s illustrations, forever linking the story with these iconic images.

Felix Octavis Carr Darley, illustration and etching. Plate 4. from Washington Irving, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, 1850. Published by the American Art Union, by subscription. Metropolitan Museum of Art. CCO1.0 Universal, Public Domain.


Felix Octavis Carr Darley, illustration and etching. Plate 5. from Washington Irving, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, 1850. Published by the American Art Union, by subscription. Metropolitan Museum of Art. CCO1.0 Universal, Public Domain.


Ah, Ichabod Crane! Katrina Van Tassel! Brom Bones! The Headless Horseman! What characters! What excitement! Hey, did you know that Ichabod Crane was a real person? Stay tuned to find out more.

Felix Octavis Carr Darley, illustration and etching. Plate 6. from Washington Irving, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, 1850. Published by the American Art Union, by subscription. Metropolitan Museum of Art. CCO1.0 Universal, Public Domain.

Kelly Lucero, photographer. Washington Irving’s grave. NYHistoric.com


Washington Irving's Illustrations of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Designed and Etched by F.O.C. Darley for the Members of the American Art Union, 1850. The Metropolitan Museum.


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