måndag 28 oktober 2013

Ghastly, Gustaf!

As Halloween is coming up it might be accurate to look into one of Gustaf Tenggren's late book projects, alas one that didn't come to publication. Gustaf was an idle reader and had a large library. Probably in the early sixties, he compiled a list of 12 ghost stories from famous authors such as Edgar Allen Poe, H. G. Wells, Mark Twain and Leo Tolstoy. 
Cover sketch 1
The huge amount of thorough sketches show Tenggren's great dedication to this project, but for some reason it was never realized. Had it been published, it would probably have been one of his greatest books. Maybe the publishers got cold feet when they saw the collected horror impact from the sketch material. Here are some of the drawings from the pile of dark and eerie visions that could have been the scariest of all Tenggren books, The Tenggren selection of Weird and Fantastic Tales!

Cover sketch 2
Cover sketch 3
Illustration sketch 1

Illustration sketch 2
Illustration sketch 3

All images by courtesy of Kerlan collection of the University of Minnesota Libraries with permissions from the Archives and Special Collections

tisdag 22 oktober 2013


During the 1920's and the early 1930's Gustaf Tenggren had a number of illustration commissions for magazines, such as Saturday Evening Post, Good Housekeeping and Redbook. This wonderful watercolor illustration from the Tenggren Papers in the Kerlan Collection is a good example of the type of paintings he made for short novels and advertisements.
Pirates drinking grog.
By courtesy of Kerlan collection of the
University of Minnesota Libraries with permissions
from the Archives and Special Collections.
It's unknown whether it was eventually printed, but Tenggren was sought after for his ability to paint pirates, a theme that he returned to all his life. In 1926 The New York World even called him "The new Howard Pyle", and his Pirate Girl ads for Rogers Bros silverware were a great success in the later half of the 1920's.

måndag 7 oktober 2013

Early Tenggren book discovered

Here's some more from my visit at Kerlan Collection, University of Minneapolis, Minnesota. One of the oldest items to be found in the catalog is a sketch for a cover. The title is En sagokrans (A garland of fairy tales). In the catalog it's stated as not confirmed as published.
A sketch for a book cover in the Tenggren papers, Kerlan Collection
I had never heard of it until I found it in this collection. I went to the Royal National Library in Stockholm where all Swedish printed items are sent for archiving. The book was not registered digitally but had a card in the old handwritten catalog. It said: "En sagokrans by Helena Nyblom, Published by Åhlen och Åkerlund 1918". It was the same company that published the fairy tale annual Bland Tomtar och Troll. This year Gustaf Tenggren also illustrated the total volume on his own for the first time. Eight more were to follow.
En sagokrans (A garland of fairy tales) by Helena Nyblom
Åhlen och Åkerlund, 1918
The cover shows a "Huldra", a siren of the woods, and illustrates one of the fairy tales in the book. Although the painting is circularly cropped and the signature is hidden, the Tenggren mark is fully visible. Thanks to the Kerlan catalog this very scarce book could be discovered. Else it would probably have been lost in oblivion.