Ivan Bilibin, 1876-1942


April A-Z Blogging Theme: Picture This! Traditional Fairy Tale Illustrators.Ivan B, Marya MorevnaOld Russia gave rise to the skazki and byliny, the fairy tales and legends, but Ivan Bilibin brought them to the world. In 1901, he was commissioned by the Department for the Production of State Documents to illustrate a series of fairy tale books. The large booklets, each with a single tale inside, were printed on fine, heavy paper with durable inks: “The Frog Tsarevna,” “Vasilisa the Beautiful,” “The Feather of Fenist the Falcon,” “Tsar Saltan”… Surrounded by Slavic folk motifs, the classic Russian architecture and folk dress of his characters herald Ivan’s later career in opera set and costume design.

(L) The third son’s arrow finds his bride. The cover of each book is similar, with the word “Skazki” above the title, in this case, “The Frog Tsarevna. (R) “My servant, Day” from “Vasilisa the Fair.”

(I have acquired several 1970s reprints of this elegant series on eBay in the $20-$30 range. Compare photos carefully, for someone has gone to the trouble of manufacturing cheap, flimsy imitations. I know, I have one of those, too!)

About mary grace ketner

My lawyer tells me I should not put the words "Fairy Tale Lobbyist" on my business cards but rather "Representative" and "National Fairy Tale Association." But I'm not, and there isn't one. Even so, I don't think I'm going it alone.

One response

  1. Bilibin is one of my favourite illustrators. I’ve got a couple of the nice 70s reprints – The Frog Princess, and Maria Morevna. I found them in some old shop for 20 pence each years ago. I also recommend ‘Ivan Bilibin’, by Sergei Golynets (Pan, London / Aurora Arts, Leningrad 1981) which is a good quality glossy large format book of nearly 200 of his illustrations, theatre costumes, stage sets, paintings, all sorts. And his story.