East of the Sun and West of the Moon - Old Tales From the North - Kay Nielsen, Peter Christen Asbjørnsen, Jørgen Engebretsen Moe 1914 - Hodder & Stoughton, London - First Edition, Number 24 of 500 Deluxe copies. A beautiful example of one of the twentieth centuries finest illustrated books, in the large stunning deluxe vellum binding, decorated in blue and gilt, numbered and signed by the Danish illustrator Kay Nielsen.

For I have a step-mother who has bewitched me, so that I am a White Bear by day, and a Man by night’
‘She lives in a Castle which stands East of the Sun and West of the Moon, and there, too, is a Princess, with a nose three ells long.


The marvellous collection of fifteen Norwegian folk tales ‘Norske Folkeeventyr’ gathered by legendary Norwegian folklorists Peter Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe on their journeys across Norway in the mid-nineteenth century, and translated into English, perfectly enhanced by Nielsen’s spectacular artwork, which is presented on twenty-five tipped in colour plates, twenty-two black and white illustrations, numerous decorations, borders, and gilt and black illustrated endpapers.
  Kay Rasmus 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 pp. [4] 206 [2].

Collation: 25 tipped in colour plates, 21 different black and white illustrations, 1 vignette, 1 illustrated title page, 13 similar decorated blocks, numerous borders and chapter headings.
  In publisher’s full cream vellum, lettered and decorated in gilt to spine and front boards, with twin blue lines to front panel, green silk ties renewed, top edge gilt, others untrimmed, illustrated endpapers in gilt and black.   Condition: Near fine, contemporary gift inscription to first free endpaper, in very good plus binding, minor rubbing to edges, slightly more to tail of spine, silk ties renewed.   Ref: 108046   Price: HK$ 120,000