Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Stassen Fairy Tales

When I started to look at these Franz Stassen illustrations from 1899 I was wondering how many nightmares they had probably caused for children. Then I looked closer and was reminded of the Simpsons of all things - just that there are often interesting details in the background, which I'm sure would mesmerize the younger set. Mice and squirrels and elfin characters etc pop up in the embellished borders and full page images of these otherwise bare ink drawings.

The art nouveau illustrations (a genre in which Stassen is renowned) for these 2 fairy tales in a single volume were produced early in Stassen's career. It took me quite a while searching (I'm largely ignorant about traditional childrens' literature) to find out that the book (Der Bärenhäuter und die 7 Schwaben - 'The Man in a Bearskin and The 7 Swabians') was reproducing Grimm Brothers fairy tales. (Actually, the 7 Swabians at least is a traditional theme, originating in textual form with Hans Sachs in the 15th century or before)

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