Cinderella – Told by Githa Sowerby – Illustrated by Millicent Sowerby – c1915
Everyone knows the story of Cinderella. The story, in one form or another, has been around for centuries and is the ultimate fairy tale. Who hasn’t, at one time or another, dreamed of being saved from their drab, dull or destitute life by a handsome Prince (or Princess) and whisked off to live in a palace?
Cinder’s name varies throughout Europe, all be it with a decidedly ‘ashy’ flavour; the Italian Cenerentola, the German Aschenputtel and the French Cendrillon (or, best of all, La petite Pantoufle de Verre. Isn’t that awesome? I’m wearing my furry pantoufles right now).
The early written stories varied too. Perrault added the pumpkin and Fairy Godmother. The aptly named Brothers Grimm added their own grisly twists – toes chopped off to enable feet to fit tiny slippers, eyeballs pecked out to punish the evil step-sisters, sleep well kiddies!
Githa Sowerby’s version of Cinderella is very close to Perrault’s, with pumpkin coach and glass slipper, Cinderella and her Prince marrying amid great rejoicing and living happily ever after. She is less forgiving of the Ugly Sisters, who are taught a lesson and turned away from the royal wedding. Thankfully their toes and eyeballs remain intact.
Githa’s book was one of many collaborations with her sister Millicent. This was the first book illustrated by Millicent Sowerby in my collection and I managed to pick it up cheaply as it’s a rather ‘well read’ copy. The front endpapers and copyright page are missing, some pages are loose and one of the prints has a tear. BUT it is an early copy with all twelve illustrations safely nestled within their guilt frames.
Millicent’s artwork is big and beautiful, befitting of this famous tale of magic. The illustrations, though a bit faded, have little of the yellowing old prints acquire and the colours, when corrected, are gorgeous – deep blues and purples for the night sky, pretty pastels for the ladies, the white silk of Cinderella’s ball gown.
The pictures below are the originals. Unfortunately, the gold frames appear brown after scanning.
The restored versions are available on cards, postcards, posters and a few jigsaws and notebooks. Please click below to take a look. Thanks for visiting!
OK, I’m over it.
For the past few months I have been sulking. Zazzle decided to change product creation without informing their sellers and we wasted a considerable amount of time contacting customer support and filling in requests for ‘further information’ and in the end, they could have just told us that things had changed. Thanks for that, Zazzle.
Anyhoo, as a result I have resized and remade the posters with a white border. Annoyingly, I really like them, and the fact that they are all the same height which means you can display them side-by-side as I always wanted. So, Zazzle, I forgive you.
In my excitement, I’ve made a lot of new stuff and have just scanned my newest book acquisitions which means there’s even more coming!
Please click on the Jolly Roger below for new Millicent Sowerby (Cinderella), Jessie Willcox Smith (improved Little Women), Alice B. Woodward (Peter Pan), E. J. Detmold (Baby Animals), wonderful Anne Anderson baby illustrations and (yey!) Hummingbirds.
The Four Gardens Illustrated by Charles Robinson
I love Charles Robinson’s art; his chubby pen and ink children and wonderful watercolours. His style and amazing use of colour are instantly recognisable. For me, he could do no wrong.
I particularly love Robinson’s illustrations of flowers and gardens and when a very resonably priced copy of The Four Gardens by Emily ‘Handasyde’ Buchanan came up on Ebay, I grabbed it.
The November 1912 edition of The Spectator contains a very kind review of the book itself;
“There is a wholesome fragrance about these garden sketches that is very pleasant. Each of the four has a character of its own, but each leads us naturally to the next, as do the colours in a well-planned garden.”
They could almost be talking about the illustrations, I think. I read on, expecting a glowing and flowery 1912 description of Robinsons art…
“We have nothing but good to say of the little black-and-white illustrations, but the coloured ones are sad examples of their process. What could be less like the clear red of a strawberry for instance, than those in the picture opposite page 124?”
“But they’re Charles Robinson strawberries!” I complain to the cat, who doesn’t seem to care. I realise, with surprise, that even an illustrator from such an artistically talented family (father Thomas, brothers William and Thomas Jr.) had to satisfy the critics of the time.
This critic though, was clearly an idiot.
Here are those strawberries along with my favourite illustrations from the book.
Please click below for cards, postcards and posters featuring illustrations by Charles Robinson. Thanks for visiting!
The Polar Bear in Art
Considering the great respect and spiritual attachment the polar bear has, I would expect it to be featured more often in Golden Age illustration.
The great white bear has been the subject of folk tales and legends told for centuries by the Inuits and other indigenous people of the Arctic. Their stories are of polar bears teaching men to hunt, a cub adopted by a childless woman and the terrifying Nanurluk, a bear the size of an iceberg.
The Norwegian folk tales tell of men transformed into bears by evil trolls, hags or witches, wandering the tundra in search of a true love who will break the spell.
Happily, two of my favourite artists provided polar bear illustrations for such tales, Kay Nielsen and Edmund Dulac.
The first is Nielsen’s White Bear from the Norwegian folk tale, East of the Sun and West of the Moon. The bear carries his future bride to a magic castle;
“Well, mind and hold tight by my shaggy coat, and then there’s nothing to fear,” said the Bear, so she rode a long, long way.
Eventually, through determination and a knowledge of how to remove candle wax from a shirt, the girl gets a prince and the bear gets the girl.
Below is Dulac’s Snow Maiden from The Dreamer of Dreams. The hero comes across a large number of polar bears.
They came slowly towards him, quiet and majestic, slightly swinging their heavy bodies as they glided onwards.
They accompany a snow maiden, gathering broken hearts;
Everything about her was white, glistening and shining ; so shining that the human eye could hardly bear the radiance. her long white hair hung about her ; a circle of glow-worms surrounded her forehead.
To see all illustrations by Kay Nielsen and Edmund Dulac, just click on the cards below – and thanks for visiting 🙂
This is the third and final piece of original artwork by Jessie Willcox Smith for the book Dickens’s Children. Here we have The Runaway Couple, Master Harry Walmers and Miss Norah, resting at the inn on their way to Gretna Green to be married. Poor little Norah is not used to being away from home and is exhausted from a long coach journey. Not even a Norfolk biffin is going to cheer her up.
‘So Boots goes up-stairs to the Angel, and there he finds Master Harry on a e-normous sofa — immense at any time, but looking like the Great Bed of Ware, compared with him — a drying the eyes of Miss Norah with his pocket-hankecher. Their little legs was entirely off the ground, of course, and it really is not possible for Boots to express to me how small them children looked.’ (Christmas Stories – The Holly Tree by Charles Dickens.)
Sadly, the union is not to be and the two go their separate ways.
‘…...I hold with him in two opinions: firstly, that there are not many couples on their way to be married who are half as innocent of guile as those two children; secondly, that it would be a jolly good thing for a great many couples on their way to be married, if they could only be stopped in time, and brought back separately.’
I can’t tell what Miss Norah is clutching along with her parasol, but for her wedding trip she also carried ‘a smelling-bottle, a round and a half of cold buttered toast, eight peppermint drops, and a (doll’s) hair-brush.’
Below is the reproduction from Dickens’s Children, 1912.
Please click on the postcard below to find the runaways and more – thanks for visiting 🙂
Another piece of original artwork by Jessie Willcox Smith today. This is Little Em’ly, childhood friend and first love of David Copperfield; used and abused by Steerforth but eventually living happily ever after (we assume) in Australia.
‘She started from my side, and ran along a jagged timber which protruded from the place we stood upon, and overhung the deep water at some height, without the least defence. The incident is so impressed on my remembrance, that if I were a draughtsman I could draw its form here, I dare say, accurately as it was that day, and little Em’ly springing forward to her destruction (as it appeared to me), with a look that I have never forgotten, directed far out to sea.
The light, bold, fluttering little figure turned and came back safe to me, and I soon laughed at my fears, and at the cry I had uttered; fruitlessly in any case, for there was no one near.’ (David Copperfield by Charles Dickens.)
Again, this illustration is in ‘mixed media’; watercolour with oil and pastel.
Below, the reproduction from Dickens’s Children, 1912
Please click on the notebook below to find all kinds of Willcox Smith lovelies and again, thanks for visiting 🙂
Dickens’s Children is a collection of 10 illustrations by Jessie Willcox Smith, featuring the younger characters from the novels of Charles Dickens. The work was commissioned by Scribner’s in 1911; eight of the drawings subsequently printed in their magazine, and the book published in 1912.
Below is the study for Tiny Tim and Bob Cratchit on Christmas Day (A Christmas Carol) and the reproduction printed in the book. The original is described as ‘mixed media’ and looks to be watercolour with oil (the snow) and pastel. Mr Cratchit certainly started out with a much gentler face, although the poor boy behind them still looks like his cap is on fire!
Please click on the link below for new Jessie Willcox Smith cards, postcards, notebooks, jigsaw puzzles and of course posters of all shapes and sizes. Thanks for visiting 🙂
I Bought a Book – Part 1
“You BOUGHT a book? Aren’t you supposed to be selling the things?”
My son tuts and leaves me to excitedly open the package. He has a point. Despite our desperate need for space due to piles/boxes/cases of books, I have not been able to resist the urge to grab a bargain.
I’ve always loved Anne Anderson and the soft, flowing, art nouveau style of her watercolours – the Grimm and Andersen fairy tale art being the most famous – but have been unaware of this series of 8 books, published by Nelson in the early 1900’s, each edition containing twelve full page colour illustrations of gorgeousness.
The new addition to my Golden Age collection is The Gillyflower Garden Book. The pictures are wonderful, each showing happy, rosy-cheeked children enjoying various gardening jobs (ha, I must put this on the ‘fantasy’ shelf!) performed throughout the year.
Here they are! Please click on the pics for bigger versions and enjoy.
To find these illustrations and more beautiful art by Anne Anderson on high quality prints, cards, postcards and more, please click below. Thanks for visiting 🙂
Kay (pronounced “kigh”) Rasmus Nielsen (1886-1957) was born in Copenhagen into an artistic family. His mother, Oda Nielsen, was one of the most celebrated actresses of her time, both at the Royal Danish Theater and at the Dagmarteater, where his father was Director.
Kay Nielsen studied art in Paris before moving to England in 1911. His first commission was from Hodder and Stoughton in 1913. The work was ‘In Powder and Crinoline’, a selection of fairy tales by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, later published in America as ‘The Twelve Dancing Princesses’.
The colour images for ‘In Powder and Crinoline’ – and those of ‘East of the Sun and West of the Moon : Old Tales from the North’ a year later – were reproduced by a 4 colour process, instead of the usual 3 used by the other illustrators at the time. The books he illustrated were also distinct from those of his contemporaries. Where Rackham and Dulac chose 19th Century classics, Nielsen chose works that he could make his own. Few artists have attempted a different version of ‘In Powder and Crinoline’.
The first World War interrupted Nielsen’s life and career. His next work, ‘Hans Andersen’s Fairy Tales’, was begun in 1912 not but completed until 1924. ‘Hansel and Gretel’ came a year later but neither work rejuvinated his career or the market for illustrated gift books. Five years passed before the publication of ‘Red Magic’, the final title to be illustrated by Nielsen.
Nielsen worked in Copenhagen as a theater producer staging many fantastical productions until he and his partner, Johannes Poulsen, were invited to stage Max Reinhardt’s ‘Everyman’ at the Hollywood Bowl in 1936. After Poulsen’s death, Nielsen and Ulla, his wife since 1926, remained in California where he decided to try the animation business. He applied for work at Walt Disney Productions.
Nielsen’s animations were featured in the “Ave Maria” and “Night on Bald Mountain” sequences of ‘Fantasia’ but the difference in style and intense pressure of the studio system was too much for the 50 year old artist and he was laid off. He returned briefly to start the concept art for ‘The Little Mermaid’ but the film was delayed and not released until almost 50 years later; not in Nielsen’s lifetime.
Kay and Ulla returned to Denmark but found his work no longer in demand. They returned to California where Nielsen received a few commissions for murals but the couple’s final years were spent in poverty, their home and necessities provided by friends. He died in 1957 at age 71. Ulla followed him a year later.
Before her death, Ulla gave an unpublished set of paintings to their friends. Nielsen had started work on Scheherazade’s ‘Arabian Nights’ at the end of the war. These striking illustrations were influenced by Persian miniatures but when the friends tried to place the works in museums, they found none were interested. After many years in the dark, they were published in 1977 as David Larkin’s ‘The Unknown Paintings of Kay Nielsen’, some 55 years after they were created.
In Powder and Crinoline
“The genius of the young artist who has illustrated this book may be left to speak for itself”. Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch
I have been very busy and am now proud to present my Kay Nielsen products to you. Zazzle have a large variety of items that are now adorned with Nielsen’s fantastic artwork including mousemats, bags, t-shirts, cushions, jigsaws and mugs as well as cards, postcards and prints printed on high quality paper. Enjoy 🙂
Born in Rotterdam Holland in 1889, Henriette Willebeek Le Mair was always destined to be imaginative and artistic. From birth she was immersed in a stimulating and creative environment. Her father would tell stories and create sketches and pictures of the children and her mother was a keen painter and writer of poetry and verse.
Le Mair appreciated the work of Maurice Boutet de Monvel, the most successful illustrator in France at that time. At fifteen years old, her parents took her to see him in Paris to ask his advice. He told her to study anatomy and gave her advice on painting childrens’ portraits. Every year she would return to him to show him her progress. De Monvel also convinced her to study at the Rotterdam Academy from 1909 to 1911. She also studied under a drawing-master in Holland. He required her to draw the model while it danced in circles, first at a slow speed, then at increased speeds.
Her first book “Premieres Rondes Enfantines” was published in France in 1904 when she was just 15 years old. One year later Henriette collaborated with her mother on a series of three books containing her mothers verse with Henriette providing the illustrations. Her most prolific period of work was between the years of 1911 to 1917. Like many other artists of the time, her work also appeared on sets of postcards and children’s china.
In her early twenties she ran an exclusive nursery school in her home and drew from this experience for much of her work, using her pupils as her models just as Cicely Mary Barker did. In 1920 Le Mair married H.P. Baron van Tuyll van Serooskerkenand and adopted the name “Saida”. They both converted to the beliefs of Sufism, a religion of universal brotherhood and love, as taught by Murshid Inayat Khan, and spent their lives helping the poor and other charitable causes. They eventually settled in The Hague, Netherlands.
Her delicate style of painting and the medium of watercolor were ideal for showing children in beautiful surroundings. Her illustrations show painstaking and minute attention to detail. Her drawing style was flat with muted colors and decorative borders. One critic from The Studio wrote; “Since the days of Kate Greenaway I know of no one who has caught so well the spirit of childhood as Miss Willebeek Le Mair.”
Henriette Willebeek Le Mair died on the 15th of March 1966 aged 77.
You can find these wonderful illustrations (and many more) on mugs, bags, cards and postcards by clicking on the image below. Thank you for visiting 🙂