In pictures: 20th-century fairytales

Magical children’s fairytale illustrations first printed in 1914 have been brought together in a new book published by TASCHEN

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Penned by Danish artist Kay Nielsen, the illustrations accompanied a collection of 15 fairytales gathered by Norwegian folklorists Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Engebretsen Moe during their journeys across Norway in the mid-19th century.

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Nielsen’s illustration edition of Asbjørnsen and Moe’s tales – titled East of the Sun and West of the Moon – is one of the most famous pieces of early 20th-century children’s literature, highly sought-after by art and book collectors worldwide.

TASCHEN’s reprint of the book by its original name, which comes out in November, features 46 illustrations, including many enlarged details from Nielsen’s rare, original watercolors.

Three accompanying essays, illustrated with dozens of previously unseen artworks by Nielsen, explore the history of Norwegian folktales, as well as Nielsen’s life and work.

Here, we bring you some of the highlights from East of the Sun and West of the Moon

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Illustration by Kay Nielsen from East of the Sun and West of the Moon titled “And flitted away as far as they could (…),” created in 1914. (Courtesy of TASCHEN)

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Illustration by Kay Nielsen from the tale ‘The Blue Belt’, entitled “The Lad in the Bear’s skin (…),” created in 1914. (Courtesy of TASCHEN)

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Illustration by Kay Nielsen from the tale ‘The Lassie and her Godmother’, entitled “He too saw the image in the water (…)”. (Courtesy of TASCHEN)

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Illustration by Kay Nielsen from the tale ‘The Widow’s Son’, entitled “But still the Horse begged him (…),”. (Courtesy of TASCHEN)

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Illustration by Kay Nielsen from the tale ‘The Widow’s Son’, entitled “And this time she whisked off the wig (…),”. (Courtesy of TASCHEN)

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Illustration by Kay Nielsen from the tale ‘The Widow’s Son’, entitled “The Lad in the battle”. (Courtesy of TASCHEN)

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Illustration by Kay Nielsen from the tale ‘The Three Princesses in the Blue Mountain’, entitled “No sooner had he whistled (…)”. (Courtesy of TASCHEN)

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East of the Sun and West of the Moon is published by TASCHEN in November 2015. To find out more, click here.