London: Hodder and Stroughton, 1914. Item #04765
Perhaps the Most Beautiful Children's Book Ever Published
[NIELSEN, Kay, Illustrator. [ASBJÖRNSEN, Peter Christen, and Jörgen Ingebreksten Moe]. East of the Sun and West of the Moon. Old Tales from the North. London: Hodder and Stoughton, .
The first trade edition of Kay Nielsen's greatest work.
Large quarto (11 1/8 x 8 5/8 in; 283 x 220 mm). , 206 , [1 printer's imprint], [1 blank] pp. Twenty-five mounted color plates with descriptive tissue guards, numerous black and white text illustrations. Publisher's dark blue cloth decoratively stamped and lettered in gilt on front cover and spine. Pictorial endpapers in gold and black.
Minimal rubbing to extremities and spine edges. Small circular bookplate on verso of front endpaper. A near fine copy, the gilt on the binding bright, the text block totally free from the usual 'foxing' that one usually sees.
Danish illustrator and designer Kay Nielsen (1886-1957) “was drawn early on to fairy tales and illustrated many volumes for Hodder & Stoughton: In Powder and Crinoline (1913), East of the Sun, West of the Moon (1914), Hans Andersen’s Fairy Tales (drawings completed in 1912, but first published in 1924), Hansel and Gretel (1925), and Red Magic (Jonathan Cape, 1930), a collections of fairy tales from around the world. Nielsen’s designs unite strong linearity with delicate colouring…Characterized by a sense of two-dimensional flatness, Nielsen’s objects and people are highly stylized: foxglove blossoms hang in measured asymmetry; princes and princesses stand on improbably long legs; and their garments billow in gravity-defying parabolas. The power of his illustrations lies in his uncanny ability to retrieve a story’s emotional effect on its reader and to recreate it visually in two dimensions” (The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales).
"As is noted in the preface to East of the Sun and West of the Moon, these folktales from the works of Asbjörnsen and Moe are by no means meant for the nursery. The Danish artist, Nielsen, being thoroughly at home with the narrative tradition that they represent, was well equipped to present their strangeness and cruelty, as well as their humor and heroism. Though his drawings are highly decorative, they are nonetheless true illustrations. The contrast between Nielsen's bizarre style, filled with echoes of nineties illustrators… and his primitive subject matter greatly enhances the piquancy of the book. It would be hard to find an Art Nouveau troll elsewhere." (Ray, The Illustrator and the Book in England from 1790 to 1814. #333, p. 209).