Rackham's Illustrations

© 2010, Dolena Matthews, Max Monis, Nicole Proctor, Holly Speers

Fairy Tales by Hans Andersen features the artwork of English illustrator Arthur Rackham. As the book was published many years after Rackham died, it reflects no one specific stage of his career. The drawings exemplify many different styles used by the man at different times in his life.

Figure 1 (from The Ugly Duckling) is drawn in a silhouette style that forced Rackham to alter his usual artistic approach. One of the key defining characteristics of most of his work is that he paid a great deal of attention to the backgrounds of his pictures. This image depicts only the birds, the humans, and the ripples from the water. Rackham, like Andersen, was one of the first creative minds to specifically aim his work at small children.

Fairy Tales

Figure 1: Woman, Man, Children and Waterfowl - The Ugly Duckling


Figure 2 depicts what should be a frightening scene in The Tinder-Box, but the artist has lessened the tension through the subdued body language of his subjects. The ominous and dead-looking tree is a common element in Rackham's Fairy Tale illustrations, and in this case, the tree is actually also an important part of the plot. All black and white pictures in Fairy Tales are embedded in pages with text, and the colour images are full-page reproductions of watercolours.

Fairy Tales
Figure 2:The Soldier, the Witch, and The Dead Tree- The Tinder-Box (p. 157).

In Figure 3 from The Snow Queen, he contrasts the muted earth tones of most of the illustration against the splashes of red. The shiny paper on which this watercolour is reproduced makes the colours more vivid.

Fairy Tales
Figure 3: Poor Village People- The Snow Queen (p. 64).