Yesterday my parents came to visit and we went to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art at Hampshire College. It’s a wonderful little museum and right now they have an amazing exhibition up called “Over Rainbows and Down Rabbit Holes: The Art of Children’s Books” with original artwork by illustrators like Beatrix Potter, Lewis Carroll, Maurice Sendak, Chris Van Allsburg (“Polar Express”), and Ludwig Bemelmans (who painted his “Madeline” murals on the walls of Bemelmans Bar at the Carlysle Hotel–one of my favorite places to have a cocktail in New York).
For me and my mom the highlight was this original Kay Neilsen illustration from the fairy tale “Blue Beard”. Neilsen was a Danish illustrator from the early 20th century and he’s one of my favorite artists. He illustrated a book of Norweigian folk tales called East of the Sun and West of the Moon: Old Tales from the North that my great-grandmother Sadie used to read to my mom when she was a little girl.
I still have the book that’s almost 100 years old–it’s completely falling apart and half of the pages are stained with the cream of wheat my mom would eat while great-grandma Sadie read to her.
We went to the bookstore to see if they had a new edition of the book and learned that they did (!) and it was just released a few months ago (!). It’s still as beautiful as ever with color plates of Nielsen’s illustrations.