This beautiful book was given to me by a friend on my last birthday. It's illustrated by Willy Pogany, a Hungarian illustrator best known for working in an Art Nouveau style (I've always had a real fondness for Art Nouveau, and I want to write more about it here soon.) You can read more about Willy Pogany here. The illustrations vary from a few colour plates to full-page to small illustrations to tiny illuminated letters. By far my favourites are the small ones that appear through the text, and measure about 4cm x 5.5cm... they're simpler and more spare than the full-page ones. They're great examples of classic Art Nouveau composition, and show a masterful use of varied line thickness and a balancing of detail with empty space. I've selected some to show here.
I thought I would also include one example of the full-page illustrations, because I particularly like this one. The composition with the calf coming in straight across the middle of the page reminds me of one of my favourite Golden Age illustrations by Dulac, 'Everything about her was white' from The Dreamer of Dreams (1915.)
This book also reminds me of a collection of folk tales that I had as a child, and that I only remember very vaguely. I remember being fascinated by the fact that the stories were hugely atmospheric, and differed dramatically in feel depending on what part of the world they were from. The one I remember was I think from Scandinavia, and had something to do with a creature in a cave, and a man taking pity on it and in spite of his fear throwing smoked fish into the cave for it to eat. If anyone can identify the book from that tiny snippet of memory I'd love to know what it was! :o)