[Sussex]: , 1933. Item #03832
RACKHAM, Arthur, artist. "Hop-o'-my-thumb went up to the Ogre softly and pulled off his seven-league boots" [Sussex]. 1933.
Original pen-and-ink and watercolor drawing, signed "A Rackham" on lower left-hand corner, for the color plate facing page 28 in the The Arthur Rackham Fairy Book. London: George G. Harrap & Co., Ltd. .
Image size: 9 1/2 x 6 3/4 inches; 241 x 172 mm. (board size: 10 3/16 x 8 3/8 inches: 259 x 212 mm.). Matted, framed and glazed.
"Seven-league boots are very tiresome to the person who wears them; so the Ogre now began to think of resting, and happened to sit down on the very rock where the poor children were hid. As he was so tired, and it was a very hot day, he fell asleep, and soon began to snore so loudly that the little fellows were terrified.
When Hop-o'-my-thumb saw this he said to his brothers, "Courage, my lads! Never fear! You have nothing to do but to steal away and get home while the Ogre is fast asleep, and leave me to shift for myself."
The brothers now were very glad to do whatever he told them, and so they soon came to their father's house. In the meantime Hop-o'my-thumb went up to the Ogre softly, pulled off his seven-league boots very gently, and put them on his own legs: for though the boots were very large, yet, being fairy boots, they could make make themselves small enough to fit any leg they pleased."
This illustration was also used on the front panel of the dust jacket on the first trade edition.
This is an exceptional watercolor encapsulating everything that Rackham is known for. Here we have an Ogre - wearing a red and white striped bandana on his head with pointed ears, a very long pointed nose and sharp teeth. He is sleeping with a grin on his face, totally oblivious as to what tiny Hop-o'-my-thumb is doing. One of his Seven-league boots is already off his left foot, lying on the ground and Hop-o'-my-thumb is trying to pull the enormous right boot off the Ogre. The Ogre is lying between the roots of an giant tree within a forest of trees and there are little white flowers on the ground around him. In the foreground are six pixie-like children running away from the Ogre, just as Hop-o'-my-thumb told them to do. A truly masterful watercolor, with Rackham using his art to create a time capsule and epitomizing his skill in bringing a moment in time to life.
Seven-league boots are an element in European folklore. The boot allows the person wearing them to take strides of seven leagues per step, resulting in great speed. The boots are often presented by a magical character to the protagonist to aid in the completion of a significant task. Mention of the legendary boots are found in: Charles Perrault's Hop o My Thumb (France) and also Jack the Giant Killer (England).