Sidney Edward Paget

Sidney Edward Paget

The features of Sherlock Holmes as described by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are very peculiar and extra ordinary. And the person who drew Sherlock Holmes with quite a brilliant resemblance to the described features was Sidney Paget. Sidney Edward Paget, born in London on 4th October, 1860 was a British illustrator hailing from the Victorian era.

Paget is renowned for his illustrations of the legendary character of Holmes which were published alongside the stories in the Strand Magazine. He was initially hired to illustarte Holmes in ‘the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’, when they accidentlly sent the letter of commission to him rather than his younger brother, Walter Paget.

It has also been a common misconception that Sidney Paget based the looks of Sherlock Holmes upon his younger brother Walter, but Sidney outrightly dismissed this notion.  Later Sidney also made illustartions in ‘the Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes’. Sir Arthur especially requested Sidney Paget to illustrate Holmes in the novel, ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’.

Holmes in deerstalker cap

Holmes in deerstalker cap

As the series started gaining popularity, his illustrations became larger and contained more and more details. It was Paget who first gave Holmes the gift of  a deerstalker cap and an iverness cape, which were no where mentioned in the writings of Doyle. The deerstalker cap and coat were first illustarted by him in ‘The Boscombe vally Mystery’. Paget drew the illustartaions in black and white which gave a darker and shadowy look to the  stories. All in all, Sidney Paget illustarted Sherlock Holmes in 37 short stories and 1 long novel with about 356 published drawings for the whole series.

Moriarty depicted by Paget

Moriarty depicted by Paget

All other illustartors also realized that whenever sketching Holmes, they had to follow the guidelines drawn by Paget. A complete set of Sidney Paget illustrations of Sherlock Holmes is considered to be priceless collectible item. The 10.5 x 6.75 inch original drawing of Holmes and Moriarty at the edge of Reichecbach Falls in the ‘Final Problem’, was sold for $220,800 on 16th November, 2004  in New York by Sotherby’s.

The illustrations of Sherlock Holmes made by Sidney Paget have been the most popular and accurate depictions of the great detective, and any new picture of Holmes deviating from the features made by Paget, is never accepted by Holmes’ enthusiasts.