November 21, 2017

The Golden Age of Illustration - Kay Nielsen & Arthur Rackham


This month, EC is shining a spotlight on two of our favorite European artists from The Golden Age of Illustration (1880s - 1920s) - Kay Nielsen and Arthur Rackham.

Both Nielsen and Rackham's art was influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement, Art Nouveau, and the Pre-Raphaelite and Post Impressionist artists of their time, and Nielsen and Rackham, in turn, have influenced modern illustrators, as well.

Read more about them and see some of their art below:

Kay Nielsen

Kay Rasmus Nielsen (March 12, 1886 - June 21, 1957) was a Danish illustrator who was popular in the early 20th century.

After studying art in Paris from 1904 to 1911, Nielsen moved to England where he received his first commission from Hodder and Stroughton in 1913 to illustrate a collection of fairy tales. His 24 color plates and 15 monotone illustrations for the book, In Powder and Crinoline, Fairy Tales Retold by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, led to The Illustrated London News hiring him to produce illustrations for the tales of Charles Perrault (Sleeping Beauty, Puss in Boots, Cinderella, and Bluebeard) for their 1913 Christmas edition.

From 1914 to 1925, Nielsen produced illustrations for several books including East of the Sun and West of the Moon; Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen; and Hansel and Gretel and Other Stories by the Brothers Grimm. He also worked, during this time, for the Royal Danish Theatre in Copenhagen where he painted stage scenery.

In 1937, after moving to California, he was hired by the Walt Disney Company where his art was used in the film, Fantasia, in the "Ave Maria" and "Night on Bald Mountain" sequences.

To me, Kay Nielsen's striking art has a timeless, graphic quality that still speaks to modern viewers. Check out his art below:
from East of the Sun and West of the Moon 1914
Kay Nielsen


L'art Magique 1913
Kay Nielsen

from The 12 Dancing Princesses 1913
Kay Nielsen


from In Powder and Crinoline 1913
Kay Nielsen
Special thanks to our guest art editors:
Christina Johnson
and Teresa Robeson

Arthur Rackham

Arthur Rackham (September 18, 1867 - September 6, 1939) is widely regarded as one of the leading illustrators from the Golden Age of British book illustration. His work is seen as a fusion of a northern European Nordic style with the Japanese woodblock tradition of the early 19th century. His background in journalistic illustration, combined with a subtle use of watercolor created a unique look that was able to be mass produced in high quality illustrated books due to technological developments in photographic reproduction.

Notable works of his include his illustrations for Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift, A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, The Sleeping Beauty by Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm, The Valkyrie by Richard Wagner, and many more.

Rackham's art defined how fairy tales looked inside my mind, and his work still resonates with fairy tale enthusiasts all over the world. Check out his art below:
Little Red Riding Hood 1908
Arthur Rackham

from Jack and the Beanstalk 1918
Arthur Rackham

The Old Woman in the Wood 1917
Arthur Rackham

from Undine 1909
Arthur Rackham
Special thanks to our guest art editors:
Jude Tulli
and Kevin Hopson

Let us know your favorites in the Comments section below.

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