For 15, maybe 20 years, I've been trying to find 2 beautifully illustrated books that I had when I was younger, books which had a huge influence on my work in later years. My mother has a bad habit of throwing out my treasures but keeping my crap.
Today the mystery was solved by a look into Ulla's gatherings for March. She was showing the illustrations of Ivan Bilibin and there they were, two of the images from one of my books! The one she was showing was The Tale of Tsar Saltan by Alexander Pushkin. Here's one, left and right pages are split so you can see the detail in the costumes... gives you a hint as to why I went into printed textiles when I 'grew up', and why I still love to make patterns, isn't it gorgeous...
After further searches I found an online version of the entire book. Here is a tater...
Three fair maidens, late one night,
Sat and spun by candlelight.
"Were our tsar to marry me,"
Said the eldest of the three,
"I would cook and I would bake -
Oh, what royal feasts I'd make."
Said the second of the three:
"Were our tsar to marry me,
I would weave a cloth of gold
Fair and wondrous to behold."
But the youngest of the three
Murmured: "If he married me -
I would give our tsar an heir
Handsome, brave, beyond compare."
It's nice to have the tale there, but online reading is never as good as having the real thing with full sized illustrations in proper rich colour, and the lovely smell of the pages. I will be hunting for the original so I can fill the hole that has been missing in my bookcase, my childhood memories and my heart. I was going to buy online but Edinburgh has so many wonderful old 2nd hand bookshops I think I'd enjoy searching for it locally and supporting them.
Margaret Evans Price illustration, 1921
Wow ( a few hours have passed, food has been cooked and eaten), I just found a fantastic site called Sur La Lune Fairy Tales with my other book in it, as well as lots of other folk/fairly tales from around the world! You can search the tales themselves or delve into the various illustrators who have worked on them over the years here.
I'm thrilled, they have lots of Ivan Bilibin plus a host of other incredible illustrators who inspired me as a child such as Arthur Rackham, Warwick Goble, Walter Crane, Edmund Dulac, H.J.Ford, Kay Neilsen, Margaret Evans Price,
The inkwork of Arthur Rakham was another big influence on me. I love his full colour work but could never work like that myself so, as a child of 7, it was pieces like this which I used to try and draw, and later, do as papercuts...