Tag Archives: Kay Nielsen

N is for Kay Nielsen













Danish illustrator Kay (“Kigh”) Nielsen began his career at a time when colorful art could be reproduced successfully in books. He illustrated East of the Sun and West of the Moon, some of Perrault and Grimm and his fellow Dane, Hans Christian Andersen. Riding the wave of technology, he designed the “Ave Maria” and “Night on Bald Mountain” segments of Fantasia.

Dismissed by Disney before the film was released, Nielsen was barely able to make ends meet. His work fell out of favor and, after his death in 1957, it was offered to museums in America and Denmark, but none were interested.


These days Kay Nielsen’s art is prized in editions such as these:


Nielsen’s Fairy Tale Illustrations in Full Color (Dover Fine Art, History of Art). Dover Publications; Green Edition, 2006. (Paperback)

East of the Sun and West of the Moon: Old Tales from the North, illustrated by Kay Nielsen. Calla Editions, 2008.

Larkin, David (editor), Kay Nielsen. Peacock Press/Bantam, 1975.

I’m curious to know why Nielsen was dismissed by Walt Disney in 1941. I’ve never seen an explanation.                  Anybody know?

E is for East of the Sun and West of the Moon

Kay Nielsen from East of the Sun . . .

Kay Nielsen’s graceful art fills the 1914 edition of East of the Sun and West of the Moon.

. . . and all around the world people besides the Brothers Grimm collect stories! These tales from Scandinavian lands were collected by Peter Christian Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe. Alexander Afanas’ev collected Russian tales and Lafcadio Hearne, Japanese. Bozena Nemcova gathered Czech folktales, and the poet William Butler Yeats collected the Irish ones, both in efforts to build national pride during times of struggle. Madame d’ Aulnoy was the first to write down the fanciful stories told in Parisian salons, and another collector, Charles Perrault, named them “fairy tales.” Americo Paredes collected Mexican folktales and J. Frank Dobie brought Texas tales to print.

Here are a few more:

Hamilton, Virginia, The People Could Fly, Illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon. Alfred A. Knopf, 1985.

Walker, Barbara. The Art of the Turkish Tale. Texas Tech University Press, 1990.

Yolen, Jane, Favorite Folktales from Around the World. Random House, 1988.

Who are your favorite collectors?