I recently saw a reference to the wonderful illustrator Kay Nielsen. I didn’t remember his name, but I recognized his illustrations immediately. Gorgeous! And it helps that East o’the Sun, West o’the Moon is one of my favorite fairy tales. Nielsen is almost one of the reasons I love that tale so much.
This is by Donn P. Crane, for the telling of East o’the Sun, West o’the Moon in volume 7 of My Book House, which I’ve mentioned before — My Book House probably birthed my love of folk and fairy tale, and my love for this particular period/style of illustration. Their version was my first exposure to this story. Nielsen’s book came out originally in 1914; the first edition of My Book House came out in 1920. Crane liked Nielsen, no?
I just took a browse through the My Book House version of the story; none of the other illustrations are so direct a lift, but it’s clear that Crane based the dress, and to a certain extent the appearance, of many of the characters on Nielsen’s illos. Well, highest form of flattery, I guess, and I suppose he wanted reasonably authentic references to Norwegian costume (Nielsen is Danish), but now I wonder about the, ah, “influences” on Crane’s other illustrations.
Still, they delighted me as a child, and I’m not the only one. So that’s something.
More on Crane, here.