King Arthur with Excaliber
LE CAIN, Errol, artist. [Young King Arthur with Excaliber]. [N.p., ca. 1968]. Original circular watercolor depicting a young King Arthur holding Excaliber above his head. Signed Errol Le Cain on right side border. Image size: 7 5/8 inches; 195 mm. Framed size: 15 inches x 15 inches; 380 mm x 380 mm. Mounted, framed and glazed.
Errol John Le Cain (5 March 1941 – 3 January 1989) was a British animator and children's book illustrator. He won the 1984 Kate Greenaway Medal for Hiawatha's Childhood (Faber & Faber), recognizing the year's best children's book illustration by a British subject.
Descended from a French-Canadian great-grandfather, Le Cain was born in Singapore but evacuated to Agra, India with his mother and other relations the following year to escape the Japanese invasion. His father was captured and interned in Changi Prison. Returning to Singapore after the war, he attended St.Patrick's Catholic school. With no formal art education, his talent was nevertheless evident from an early age, Le Cain was fascinated by cinema and made his first animated film, The Enchanted Mouse, with a friend's 8-mm camera at age 11. His next work, The Little Goatherd, was created with a 16-mm camera at age 15. This came to the attention of agents for British film distributor Pearl & Dean, who offered to pay his passage to London that year (1956) to pursue a career in animation for film and television.
In 1965, Le Cain joined Richard Williams's animation studio and worked on a wide range of animation projects, including film titles for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Casino Royale, and The Charge of the Light Brigade. His most important work with Richard Williams was for the unfinished (1964 to 1992) animated film The Thief and the Cobbler.
Le Cain turned freelance in 1969, working on sets for BBC television productions, continuing with animation projects, and beginning his career as a children's book illustrator.
Le Cain's first children's illustrations were published by Faber and Faber in a story he'd originally storyboarded for film, King Arthur's Sword (1968), which began a long association with Faber that continued to his death. His first book "made me aware of the scope and possibilities of children's book illustration, and now I am convinced this is the medium for me". Le Cain wrote 3 and illustrated 48 children's books during his lifetime, recognized for their richly decorative watercolours and masterful command of design and colour. His self-authored works were King Arthur's Sword (1968), The Cabbage Princess (1969) and The White Cat (1973). He was commended for the 1969, 1975, and 1978 Greenaway awards before winning the 1984 Medal and was commended again for 1987. The four commended books were The Cabbage Princess; Thorn Rose, or the Sleeping Beauty based on the version related by the Brothers Grimm; The Twelve Dancing Princesses, retold from the Brothers Grimm; and The Enchanter's Daughter by Antonia Barber.