Over at Brainpickings, Maria Popova offers a great opportunity to check out “The Most Beautiful Illustrations from 200 Years of Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales.” I had seen some of the images before, and was familiar with the work of both of Edward Gorey and Maurice Sendak.
I was not familiar with the works of either Lisbeth Zwerger or Shaun Tan, and now that I am, I shall have to add their versions of the classic fairytales to my collections.
Since I live in the Brandywine Valley, I would be remiss if I didn’t include the collections of two area museums. Some of the pieces in the collections were used to illustrate books; others are magnificent pieces in their own right.
The Delaware Art Museum has a world famous collection of Pre-Raphaelite art, considered to be the largest and most significant collection of Pre-Raphaelite art in the United States. Sir Edward Burne-Jones created the evocative painting, “The Council Chamber,” which represents the second scene in the Briar Rose series. The series was based on the story of “Sleeping Beauty,” retold during the Victorian period by Alfred Tennyson in his poem “The Day-Dream.”
The Delaware Art museum also has this whimsical interpretation of the Cinderella fairytale, “She Ran Away So Quickly That He Could Not Overtake Her” by American painter and illustrator Ethel Franklin Betts Bains. It was featured in “Cinderella,” in Fairy Tales from Grimm, Hamilton W. Mabie, editor (New York: Grosset & Dunlap, not dated.)
A nineteenth century revival of interest in folklore and fairy tales helped create a surge in children’s literature. Such stories offered vicarious experiences of dangers and triumphs, and called for lively illustrations appealing to children and to the adults who read to them and showed them the pictures.
The Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art is located in the renovated Hoffman’s Mill, a former gristmill built in 1864. The museum has an international reputation for its unparalleled collection and its dedication to American art with primary emphasis on the art of the Brandywine region, American illustration, still life and landscape painting, and the work of the Wyeth family. Among their many works is the charming “Goldilocks and the Three Bowls” by Jessie Willcox Smith, c. 1900. This mixed media piece was used as an illustration for “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” 4th in a “Fairy Tale Series,” Women’s Home Companion, October 1913.
No visit to the Brandywine Valley is complete without a visit to these museums.