Illustration by Kay Nielsen 4 - Drawing. Public domain image.


Illustration by Kay Nielsen 4 - Drawing. Public domain image.



‘The North Wind goes over the sea’
Illustration by Kay Nielsen in East of the sun and west of the moon (1914).

In the early twentieth century several English publishers issued a series of collector’s editions of children’s literature. These gift books, specially bound in gold-tooled vellum, were elaborately illustrated with coloured plates by the best illustrators of the time such as Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac, Hugh Thomson, and Heath Robinson. One of the most stunning is East of the sun and west of the moon illustrated by the Danish illustrator, Kay Nielsen.
Nielsen (1886-1957) was born in Denmark and studied art in Paris. He was influenced by the styles of Aubrey Beardsley, Edward Burne-Jones and the influx of Japanese art that was spreading to the West at this time. East of the sun was his second book and is considered to be his masterpiece and one of the most beautiful illustrated children’s books ever produced.

Nielsen’s burgeoning career was interrupted by World War I, and never really recovered. His publisher, Hodder & Stoughton tried unsuccessfully to reinvigorate the market for gift books after the war and in 1924 and 1925 issued two further fairy tales books illustrated by Nielsen, but these were on a more modest scale and the demand for extravagant books of this type had gone. Nielsen fell into obscurity and died in poverty in 1957.

French/British artist Edmund Dulac’s illustrations appeared in magazines, books, and stamps. A native of France, Du lac spent a brief period of time at the Académie Julian before moving to London in 1904. His first commissions were for the publisher J.M. Dent, appearing in the book Jane Eyre, and subsequently created the art for nine other volumes of work by the Brontë sisters. An early creator of fantasy art, he was a regular contributor of the Pall Mall Magazine, and prints of his work were published in illustrated gift books such as Stories of The Arabian Nights, William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, The Sleeping Beauty and Other Fairy Tales, Stories from Hans Christian Andersen, The Bells and Other Poems by Edgar Allen Poe, among others.

Kay Nielsen (1886–1957) was a Danish illustrator who was popular in the early 20th century, the "golden age of illustration" which lasted from when Daniel Vierge and other pioneers developed printing technology to the point that drawings and paintings could be reproduced with reasonable facility. Nielsen is also known for his collaborations with Disney for whom he contributed many story sketches and illustrations, not least for Fantasia.





East of the Sun and West of the Moon (1914)

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east of the sun and west of the moon 1914 nielsen
east of the sun and west of the moon 1914 nielsen