Hansel and Gretel and Other Stories - Kay Nielsen (illustrator), Brothers Grimm 1925 - Hodder and Stoughton, London - First Nielsen Edition, Number 70 of 600 limited copies, signed by the artist ‘Once upon a time there dwelt near a large wood a poor woodcutter with his wife and two children by his former marriage, a little boy named Hansel, and a girl named Gretel.’

A superb example of this large, limited edition of Grimm fairy tales, illustrated with twelve stunning mounted colour plates and numerous black and white drawings by Kay Nielsen, and signed by the artist on the limitation page, accompanied by the publisher’s somewhat worn slipcase.

Together with ‘
Hansel and Gretel’, this marvellous collection also includes the stories ‘The Six Swans’, ‘The Fisherman and His Wife’, ‘Snowdrop’, ‘Clever Alice’, ‘The Valiant Little Tailor’, ‘Rapunzel’, ‘The Three Magic Gifts’, ‘The Golden Goose’, and ‘Rumpelstiltskin’, among others.
  The Brothers Grimm were Jacob Grimm (1785-1863) & Wilhelm Grimm (1786-1859).

Kay Nielsen (1886–1957) was a Danish illustrator who was popular in the early 20th century, the ‘golden age of illustration’. Nielsen studied art in Paris from 1904 to 1911, and then lived in England from about 1911 to 1916. In 1913 he received his first English commission from Hodder and Stoughton to illustrate a collection of fairy tales, providing 24 colour plates and more than 15 monotone illustrations – In Powder and Crinoline, Fairy Tales Retold by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch (re-issued as The Twelve Dancing Princesses in 1920).

In the same year, Nielsen was also commissioned by
The Illustrated London News to produce a set of four illustrations to accompany the tales of Charles Perrault - with the images for 'Le Belle au Bois Dormant' ('Sleeping Beauty'), 'Le Chat Botté' ('Puss in Boots'), 'Cendrillon' ('Cinderella') and 'La Barbe Bleue' ('Bluebeard') being published in the 1913 Christmas Edition.

A year later, he also provided 25 colour plates and more than 21 monotone images for the children's collection
East of The Sun West of The Moon: Old Tales from the North. The colour images for both ‘In Powder and Crinoline’ and ‘East of the Sun and West of the Moon’ were reproduced by a 4-colour process – in contrast to many of the illustrations prepared by his contemporaries that characteristically utilised a traditional 3-colour process.

In 1917 he returned to Denmark and in 1924 produced illustrations for
Fairy Tales by Hans Andersen. That title included 12 colour plates and more than 40 monotone illustrations - the colour images were prepared with integrated formal and informal borders; the informal borders were produced in a mille fleur-type style. A year later, his superb contribution to Hansel and Gretel and Other Stories by the Brothers Grimm was first published with 12 colour images and over 20 detailed monotone illustrations. In 1930 ‘Red Magic’ was published, being the final title to be illustrated comprehensively by Nielsen, which included 8 colour and more than 50 monotone illustrations.

In 1939 he left for California and worked for Hollywood companies, including The Walt Disney Company, where his work was used in the ‘Ave Maria’ and ‘Night on Bald Mountain’ sequences of
Fantasia. In 1940 he was laid off. He did some work on ‘The Little Mermaid’ story, but it was almost 50 years before this reached the cinema. His final years were spent in poverty.

Quarto (book size 25.5 x 30.5 cm), pp. [12] 276 [4]. Publisher’s white cloth, lettered and intricately decorated in gilt to spine and front board, additional blue highlighting to front board, decorated endpapers of gilt and red, top edges gilt. One of two variant bindings, the other having a thin blue band on the spine behind the illustrators name. Publisher’s white slipcase with paper label to front panel.
  Condition: Near fine, some minor toning to spine, archival repair to tear on page 275 not affecting text, in good slipcase.   Ref: 108825   Price: HK$ 35,000