In 1929 Gustaf Tenggren illustrated a compilation of Mother Goose for Houghton and Mifflin. It was meant to be a school book and contained a number of small educational tasks for the children to solve. The first version had a color front cover which was also used as a frontispiece, but the later editions had only plain B&W print.
|Mother Goose book, Houghton and Mifflin 1929|
This was the first of Gustaf's book that was paid by royalties, but certainly not the last one. The successful row of Golden Books were also made on a partial royalty basis and rendered a solid economic basis for the later part of his life.
After Gustaf Tenggren had left the Walt Disney Studios in 1939, he made a totally new version of the french classic. From earlier using delicate transparent water color washes, he turned to tempera colors which could be layered heavily and proved to stand over painting without bleeding.
|The Tenggren Mother Goose, Little, Brown & Co 1940|
The contrast was as clear as day and night and must have been shocking to the fans of Tenggren's old-style illustration style. But when The Tenggren Mother Goose
was published in 1940, the critics were enthusiastic: "This is the best Mother Goose ever!", they claimed unanimously.
In Kerlan Collection there is yet another try-out cover design for the book. It is never published but seems to be made in the late1950ies.
|Alternate Mother Goose cover, 1950ies.|
Published with courtesy of Kerlan collection of
the University of Minnesota Libraries
with permissions from the Archives and Special Collections.
It's probably not made for Simon & Schuster's Golden Books, since Feodor Rojankovski already had made a Mother Goose for them. Possibly it was meant for a re-issue of The Tenggren Mother Goose but never realized.
The three covers with each some ten years between them describe the evolution of Tenggren's style through the years. It was made possible by his ability to adapt to the various designs of the current time, but never losing his draftsmanship which was deeply rooted in art history.