Willy Pogány, 1882-1959


Pogany Tisza.jpg
An exhibition of Willy Pogány’s art might at first appear to be the work of an artists’ collaborative, for the prolific Hungarian-born American artist worked masterfully in several different media and styles to capture precisely the spirit of each assignment. Having illustrated 100 books, countless magazine articles and ads, and even a fantasy guesthouse on the William Randolph Hearst estate, his artistry simply could not be contained!

During the McCarthy era, Pogány was falsely named the brother of Hungary’s communist leader. Bringing suit saved his career though he did not prevail; the judge ruled the misnomer an unmalicious error.

Above from Tisza Tales, Hungarian Folktales collected by Rosika Schwimmer. Below, L-R, title page from Wagner’s Parsifal; image from The Rubiayat of Omar Kayyam; Saturday Evening Post cover, 1933.

Note for us purists: In America, Willy’s name is pronounced “Po-GAN-y, however, “…in my native Hungary this name is pronounced with the accent on the first syllable with a slightly shorter o and the gany is as the French -gagne (the y is silent)”: PO-gahn.”

Ida Rentoul Outhwaite, 1888-1960

Outhwaite Wishing Pool.jpg

Fairies in Oz?

Describing The Little Book of Elves and Fairies, amazon.com calls Ida Rentoul Outhwaite “the forgotten painter” of fairies and fairyland. But wasn’t it she who forgot? Outhwaite,  a granddaughter of Ireland, forgot the Faery power of the Sidhe in favor of wispy little pastel imps!

But, Fair Dinkum, may she be forgiven? For prancing among this Australian’s ink and watercolor pixies are some utterly unique, charming–and unforgettable–touches: koalas, kookaburras, geckos, cockatoos, eucalyptus trees, billibongs…

A lifelong illustrator, some of her last—and least fairied—works were her images for Phyllis M. Powers’ 1958 Legends from the Outback.

L-R: from “The Fairy Bridget and the Kookaburra,” “The Little Witch” (and a eucalyptus tree), Legends from the Outback.

Kay Nielsen, 1886-1957



Nielsen Lassie

From “The Lassie and her Godmother” in East of the Sun and West of the Moon.

Danish American Kay (pronounced “Kigh”) Nielsen’s watercolor paintings for  Peter Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe’s Norwegian fairy tale collection, East of the Sun and West of the Moon, are perfectly described by his “appreciator,” Welleran Poltarnees:

Nielsen thinks as a stage designer, arranges his world as for an audience through a proscenium arch. His deliberate artificiality is in part the oddness proper to a fairy realm, in part the inevitable result of his temper reacting to the materials, but also, I think, it mimics his love of the stage which later flowered into the designing he did for Copenhagen’s Royal Theater.

Above illustrations are from the title tale “East of the Sun and West of the Moon.”

Welleran Polternees is the author of Kay Nielsen: An Appreciation (Green Tiger Press, 1976).

(Note: Nielsen is a favorite of mine.  A few years ago, I wrote a more biographical hundred-word post about him.)

Maxfield Parrish, 1870-1966

Parrish fishernan&Genie.jpg

“The Fisherman and the Genie” from The Arabian Nights, 1909.

Artist Maxfield Parrish stands alone. His landscapes are technically and photographically perfect. His oils are laid on in their maximum color saturation and layered with luminous glazes. Furthermore, he quickly mastered the new color-separation process so that the brilliance of his originals could be maintained in print. By 1920, admirers of his Colliers, Scribners, Century, Life and other magazine covers flocked to purchase his prints and calendars.

Parrish illustrated an edition of Arabian Nights in 1909, but most of his fairy tale paintings were commercial products: Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella were magazine covers; Jack and the Beanstalk sold Ferry’s Seeds.

Maxfield Parrish’ Cinderella, Harper’s Bazaar, March 1914; Sleeping Beauty, Hearst Magazine, November 1912; Jack selling seeds in 1923.

Josef Lada, 1887-1957



Lada FeatureBorn to a Bohemian village shoemaker, young Josef taught himself to paint. His bold lines and bright colors overcame the poor quality of paper and ink available in eastern Europe during the decades between the wars, and his bright scenes offered escape from those dark years with happy children and fairy tale landscapes. Lada’s art is a point of Czech pride; his illustrations are still reprinted each year on Christmas and Easter cards.

Better known for his original character, Kater Mikeš, a talking cat, Lada also illustrated the fairy tales of Czech nationalist collectors Karel Jaromir Erben and Bozena Nêmcová.

Mikeš, Nêmcová’s Fairy Tales of the Nation (of Czech-speaking peoples), and an unknown (to me) fairy tale illustration. Know a Czech writer? There is plenty of opportunity for Nêmcová or Erben translators.

One last treat, in case you missed it a few years back on Lada’s birthday:

Lada Google Doodle

Jessie Marion King, 1875-1949


April A to Z Blogging Challenge Theme: Picture This! Classic Fairy Tale Illustrators.

King A few Bubbles

Oscar Wilde said his second book of fairy tales, A House of Pomegranates (1891), was “intended neither for the British child nor the British public,” which was perfectly true! Enigmatic and interior, the tales were reprinted in 1915 brightened, perhaps unfairly, by “the illustrator of dreams,” Jessie Marion King.

King was a member of Charles Rennie MacIntosh’s “Glasgow School” (Art Nouveau with a Gaelic accent) and the most important Scottish illustrator of the twentieth century. Besides book design and illustration, she created both fine and applied art and illustrated many books for children, though Wilde’s were her only fairy tales.

Jessie Wilcox Smith, 1863-1935


April A to Z Challenge Theme: Picture This! Traditional Fairy Tale Illustrators

Jessie WS Alice
Jessie Wilcox Smith illustrated Mother Goose, nursery tales, and popular authors during America’s Golden Age of Illustration. Her watercolors filled the popular magazines (Colliers, Ladies Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, Scribners…) and 60 books, including Alcott’s Little Women, Longfellow’s Evangeline, and Johanna Spyrie’s Heidi. Like Elinore Abbott, she was a modern, educated “New Woman,” a student of Howard Pyle, a member of Philadelphia’s Plastic Club, and secure in her career.

A painter of mothers and children, she said, “”A child will always look directly at anyone who is telling a story; so while I paint I tell tales marvelous to hear.”

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!)

Jennie Harbour, 1893-1959


April A-Z Blogging Theme: Picture This! Traditional Fairy Tale Illustrators.

Harbour Cinderella

Cinderella Runs Away from the Palace

Jennie Harbour was born in London’s East End to a family which had escaped the Polish pogroms. Her father’s millinery business was successful enough to send his daughter to boarding school to nourish her intellect and creativity.

In her late 20s, Harbour began illustrating for Raphael Tuck & Sons. Her 12 color plates and numerous ink illustrations for Edric Vrendenburg’s My Book of Favorite Fairy Tales were so compelling that people soon forgot they were his favorite Fairy Tales and asked for her book. Still do!

A biography, Searching for Jennie Harbour, by writer Adele Garaghty is in the works.

“Red Riding Hood” (Don’t you love her striped skirt!?), Zélie and the Fairy Candide from “Prince Chéri,” and “Beauty and the Beast.”

A question for my artist friends: Do you think these are pastels? I could not find anything about her medium or process.

Warwick Goble, 1862-1943


April A-Z Blogging Theme: Picture This! Traditional Fairy Tale Illustrators.


The Star Lovers (Cowherd and Weaving Maid)

In 1896, yet another Brit hit the story illustration scene!

Warwick Goble had worked as a printer specializing in chromolithography. Resident illustrator at MacMillan from 1909-1912, he brought a delicate, fluid style with a light touch to his water color art. He produced Green Willow and other Japanese Fairy Tales, and Folk Tales from Bengal, and later illustrated two collections of Indian tales for other publishers.

Look for Asian sensibilities even in his western fairy tale illustrations. From a misty background and strong linework, he draws the eye to a focal character using bold red, purple or gold tones.

Moon Maiden, Little Red Riding Hood, and “January helping May into a Tree.”