torsdag 18 december 2014

A greeting from Christmases gone by

I'd like to wish all Tenggren fans a Merry Christmas with this home-made card from Gustaf Tenggren. It's printed in black but the signature is hand-written.
From its style, it should be from one of the the last years of the 1920ies. It was sent off to a friend and musician in Gothenburg. Tenggren produced a number of personal Christmas cards during the years, of which a few survived. Despite its battered state it shows great graphic craftsmanship.

måndag 1 december 2014

Magnificent Pinocchio concept painting for sale

Don't know what to buy for Christmas? Take a look at the latest catalog from auction house Profiles in History. Their Animation Art catalog displays a number of unique items, including this gorgeous Pinocchio concept painting by Gustaf Tenggren.
Pinocchio concept art by Gustaf Tenggren, 1938. 
An intent to spend a mere $60,000 - 80,000 can make you one of the bidders fighting for this gem. I think there will be some of you, though.

fredag 28 november 2014

Book release and art auction

Yesterday, Thursday, November 27th, the new biography on Gustaf Tenggren by Lars Emanuelsson and Oskar Ekman was released at Stockholm's Auktionsverk. Lars Emanuelsson and Lasse Åberg, famed artist, film director and Disneyana collector, spoke on Tenggren and his Disney connections.

Lasse Åberg and Lars Emanuelsson in front of some of the
Tenggren artwork sold at the auction.
All images: Lennart Bergman.

Lars Emanuelsson speaks on Tenggren.

Lars Emanuelsson signs the book, "Gustaf Tenggren - en biografi". 
The book was sold at the place and there was a queue of people wanting to get their copies signed by Lasse Åberg, Lars Emanuelsson and Oskar Ekman. The demand was pretty intense so the place ran out of books. There are still a couple of days to see the show - 36 great Tenggren pieces are held for sale.

fredag 21 november 2014

The viewing is on!

Yesterday, Thursday November 20th, the viewing of Stockholm's Auktionsverk's Quality Auction of Fine Arts and Antiques started. The Tenggren collection, holding 36 pieces, has been allocated a nice corner of its own, reminding of a dedicated once-in-a-lifetime Tenggren Museum.
The interest for Tenggren's art was great and I think a number of interested visitors will attend the combined presentation and book release. At Thursday November 27th, the new Tenggren biography, "Gustaf Tenggren - en biografi" by Lars Emanuelsson and Oskar Ekman will be presented. The auction itself is held December 3rd.


tisdag 11 november 2014

Catalog for Tenggren auction available now

Accompanying the release of the first Gustaf Tenggren biography, a once-in-a-lifetime auction is held at the Stockholms Auktionsverk, (Stockholm Auction House). On December 3rd, at the Classic quality auction of Fine Art and Antiques, 36 examples of Tenggren's art are held for sale. For this occasion, a special offprint has been made from the regular catalog, listing the works. It can be downloaded as a pdf here. The viewing of the auction will be November 21-30.
Cover of the special offprint for the Tenggren auction.
Thursday November 27, a special release of the Tenggren biography, Gustaf Tenggren - en biografi, is held. The book, published by Kartago, will be available at book stores November 17. Despite its being available only in Swedish from the beginning, it contains a whole lot of Tenggren art and biographical photos.
Art from the auction: Gustaf Tenggren's self-portrait, 1914.
Art from the auction: Walpurgis night, 1916.

torsdag 6 november 2014

A book is born!

I am very happy to declare that the Tenggren biography is finally ready! Just today a package of eight copies arrived to the publishing company and I was invited to pick one up. The release date is set to November 17th, but the book is already possible to order from one of a number of web bookstores.

Rolf Classon and Lars Emanuelsson with the new copies
of the first Gustaf Tenggren biography ever.
Aligned with the book release, a collection of 40 original Tenggren artworks are sold at the Classic Quality auction of Fine Arts and Antiques at Stockholm's Auktionsverk. The auction date is December 3rd and the viewing is November 21st-30th.

Head and owner of Kartago publishing company, Rolf Classon,
 is browsing through the first copy of Gustaf Tenggren - en biografi
November 27th I'll be there to elaborate on Tenggren and show the art. I'm also proud to announce that the famed artist, film director and Disneyana collector Lasse Åberg will attend the show that day to talk about Tenggren's Disney connection. It's all made during the viewing of the auction so feel free to join in!

fredag 3 oktober 2014

A Tenggren for Christmas?

Here's the opportunity to buy a once-in-a-lifetime Christmas present for your loved one, or why not for yourself?
This week the auction chamber of Stockholm, Stockholms Auktionsverk, published their periodical magazine, announcing the highlights of the coming auctions. The current issue has a spread covering the spectacular sale of a private collection of Gustaf Tenggren works. The some fifty pieces of art will be included in the annual fall auction of Fine Arts and Antiques December 2-3, 2014 in Stockholm.

The article is written by yours truly and it's very brief, just telling the basic facts on Gustaf Tenggren's life and career, which are unfortunately still almost unknown to most Swedish people. Hopefully, there will be some room for a focus exhibition on Tenggren and his art before the auction itself.
But if your finances doesn't allow a Tenggren painting, you might at least afford a book.
Simultaneously with the show, the biography on Tenggren will be released by the publishing company Kartago. Gustaf Tenggren - en biografi is planned to be in the bookstores mid-November this fall. It's in Swedish, but hopefully an English version will follow before long.

torsdag 4 september 2014

Painter's corner

Here are two nice and rare images from 1941-1942 from Gustaf Tenggren's home at Waverly Place, New York City. Tenggren is sitting in an arm-chair, busy fine-tuning one of the illustrations for Cinderella in Tenggren's Tell-It-Again. Around him are on display other paintings for this volume, including Hansel and Gretel and Beauty and the Beast. The photos are probably taken for marketing, possibly by the publisher Little, Brown & Company. I have not seen them in any newspaper or magazine article. They seem a bit arranged; Gustaf didn't likely sit like this while working, but at a desk surrounded by his material.
Gustaf Tenggren in his study 1942, painting on one of the illustrations for Cinderella.
His watercolor box on the shelf shows that the illustrations were made in watercolor,
not tempera that he used used for Tenggren's Mother Goose.
They had already in 1940 published Gustaf's first book after his leaving the Disney Studio in 1939, The Tenggren Mother Goose. The book was a great success and was hailed as "The best Mother Goose ever!" by excited critics. 
Gustaf holds a finished illustration for Cinderella fleeing
down tha staircase after loosing her shoe. Leaning on the edge of the table is a
portrait study from travels in Mexico during 1939 and 1940.
The new book was a fairy tale compilation, presenting a selection of classics, such as Puss in Boots, Little Red Riding Hood and Jack and the Beanstalk. Katharine Gibson had chosen the tales and edited them. The book was not as an immediate hit as its predecessor, but were to become a long-life classic with a number of reprints during the years.

Illustration for Beauty and the Beast.
The image of the princess is a portrait of Gustaf's wife, Mollie.
It has been suggested that this is an allegoric image of their marriage. 

onsdag 20 augusti 2014

A spellbound audience

An interesting Tenggren painting is sold at Bonhams, San Fransisco in September 22, 2014.
This is an alternative for one of the illustrations in the Grimm's Fairy Tales that was published first time in Sweden 1922 and in Denmark 1923. A later edition was published in Germany as Grimm's Märchenschatz, but with the same set of prints as in all editions.
Original Tenggren watercolor illustration, 1918-19
Tenggren worked on the total of thirty-two illustrations from 1918 - 1920 and actually delivered the last four of them after he had moved to the USA. Tenggren's original Grimm paintings rarely appear and this is a unique opportunity to acquire a spectacular Tenggren piece in his early fantasy style.
It is well known that Tenggren produced alternate versions of some paintings for Grimm's fairy tales and, as in this case, it's hard to see why. Both these paintings are of great imaginative quality and equally fascinating!
Print from Grimm's Fairy Tales.

fredag 15 augusti 2014

A continuous quest for quality

When Gustaf Tenggren arrived in New York City, NY, in 1923, one of the first clients that hired him was the publisher Houghton Mifflin in Boston, MA.
Already the first year, he illustrated four of their children's books:

  • Wonder Book and Tanglewood Tales by Nathanael Hawthorne
  • A Boy of the Lost Crusade by Agnes Danforth Hewes
  • The Christ Story for Boys and Girls by Abrahm Mitrie Rihbany
  • Heidi by Johanna Spyri

Especially the last of them seems to have made a lasting impression on the editors. In May 1925, Tenggren received a proposal to make a cover for a book Katherine Newlin Burt, "Quest". The editor, Mr. Scaife, describes it very thoroughly so Tenggren will get the full picture:
"Roughly speaking the point of the story to illustrate is this: A young man in his twenties, fair haired, handsome, who has been discontented with what life has given him, has gone through the paces which young men do go through in these modern times and has turned to religion as a seeker after God."
"He is waiting and hoping for some revelation and he apparently sits for hours at a time in a pair of heavy white stained trousers and heavy white sweater and his curly blond hair free from any cap or covering smoking his pipe and looking down on his little world thinking."
The figure should, of course, be prominent but not so prominent but what the scenery and the bigness of the scene should play its important part in the picture."
After a very detailed description of how he wants the image to look, he concludes:
"You are my first selection for the subject and the reason is the delightful quality of the two pictures in HEIDI, one the effect of the children in the mountains, the other the old man and little Heidi."
He wants the artwork executed within two to three weeks, and refers to the price per color illustration for HEIDI as he proposes the payment: $100.
The conditions were accepted and the painting delivered in due time.
Katharine Newling Burt: Quest. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 1925
I think the cover has everything Mr. Scaife asked for, which illustrates some of the versatility Tenggren had and which made him so successful during the start-up of his early career in the USA. Accordingly, already the same fall, he was offered a new commission: Frances Courtenay Baylor's Juan and Juanita, published in 1926.
In 1927 he illustrates a book by the Swedish author Laura Fitinghoff, The Children of the Barren Moore. It's a story about seven poor orphan siblings, struggling through a harsh winter by the help of a goat. 
In 1929 Tenggren sums up the decade and his row of commissions for Houghton Mifflin with a schoolbook. Emma Miller Bolenius' and Marion George Kellogg's Mother Goose is a reader but stuffed with small educational tasks for the children. A great wrap-up for a long-lasting cooperation, ending just as the depression strikes. 

onsdag 13 augusti 2014

Old sweet magic

The other day, as I sat browsing through Gustaf Tenggren's book of accounts from the 1920ies, my eyes fell on a notation for December 20, 1931. It said: "Junket booklet" and the client was Karle Litho Co. in Rochester, N. Y.
I had heard that Tenggren had made a small booklet for a vanilla custard dessert, so I searched for "Junket" on Google. I quickly learned that it was a very popular vanilla dessert made from fresh milk. The Junket Custard came in a number of flavors and is still available ever since 1874.
Junket Booklet, printed by Karle Litho Co.1931
Luckily enough, I happened to find the booklet on Ebay and, as I speak, it is on its way here.
Tenggren has made six illustrations for it two B-W and four in full color. The idea was to illustrate the magic of the junket process by providing some magic tricks "to amaze your friends" with.
The folder is not signed - if it had been, it would probably be unavailable or very expensive - but this is unmistakably Tenggren, and at his very best too.
This was the last of the plus twentyfive commissions he received from this client, starting in 1927. In 1932 Karle Litho was merged with Stecher Lithographic.
The illustrations were paid with $250. How much a packet of Junket Dessert was, i really don't know.
Anyhow, enjoy this!
Pages 1 - 2
Pages 6 -7

söndag 13 juli 2014

Back to the Classics

In 1959 Golden Press published The Golden Treasury of Myths and Legends. It was a compilation of antique tales retold by Anne Terry White and illustrated by Martin and Alice Provensen. But several finds in the collections of University of Minneapolis, Minnesota, proves that Gustaf Tenggren was considered as an alternative artist for the book. A number of fully executed paintings depicting ancient gods of the greeks shows that Tenggren spent a whole lot of work in the belief that he would get the commission for this Giant Golden Book. 
Anne Terry White:
The Golden Treasury of Myths and Legends, 1959
Illustrated by Martin and Alice Provensen
Cover draft for
Tenggren's Golden Treasure of Myths and Legends
Kerlan collection of the
University of Minnesota Libraries
with permissions from the Archives and Special Collections
Kerlan collection of the
University of Minnesota Libraries
with permissions from the Archives and Special Collections
Kerlan collection of the
University of Minnesota Libraries
with permissions from the Archives and Special Collections
Pandora's box
Kerlan collection of the
University of Minnesota Libraries
with permissions from the Archives and Special Collections
Collection of the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum
at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.
Collection of the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum
at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.
Collection of the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum
at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.
It is not known whether the Golden Press editors felt that Tenggren had more than enough of jobs for the publisher or if Tenggren just didn't have time to complete another Giant Golden Book. Around this time he would have been very busy completing the illustrations for one of his most beautiful books, Golden stories from Arabian Nights. The Provensens were earlier commissioned to do another classic,  The Iliad and the Odyssey, while Tenggren were to concentrate on two Anglo-Saxon classics: Chaucer's Canterbury Tales as well as King Arthur and the Knights Around the Round Table.

onsdag 2 juli 2014

How it all started

Yesterday I had the pleasure to pick up another Tenggren painting for my friend, the Tenggren collector.
I know this painting very well and it was a delight to see that it was in such a good condition although painted in 1917, with its brilliant colors pretty well preserved. At the time, Gustaf was only 21 years old, still studying at Valand's School of Art,  and the influence from jugend and Ivar Arosenius is quite obvious.
Illustration for The House Gnome's Bundle, Bland Tomtar och Troll, Åhlen och Åkerlund 1917
This painting is quite special, since it is one of four made for the very first fairy tale illustrated by Tenggren in the series Bland Tomtar och Troll.
Bland Tomtar och Troll, Åhlen och Åkerlund 1917, cover

It was also the first time that a volume of this annual was illustrated by two separate artists. When John Bauer refused to continue illustrating after 1915, publisher Erik Åkerlund hired Anna Stenberg MasOlle, a friend of Bauer's and an idle contributor to Åkerlund's other publications. But after just one year, in 1916, he realized she couldn't fill out the role as Bauer's successor. Probably through a hint from John Bauer's brother, Ernst, Åkerlund let Gustaf Tenggren illustrate one of the stories and Stenberg MasOlle the rest.
The tale, The House Gnome's Bundle (Kvistvätten's knyte),  is written by Vilhälm Nordin. It's about a girl who plans to emigrate to the U.S.A. but realizes that the house gnome will move from the house too and take the luck of the household with him. That makes her stay home with her folks. The aim of the story was to stop the wave of emigration that threatened to drain Sweden of young laborers.

Her are the four illustrations, scanned from the book.

Although the novel didn't help much in stopping the Swedish emigrants for America, it was successful in another way. The year after, 1918, Erik Åkerlund let Gustaf Tenggren make the whole volume of Bland Tomtar och Troll. Tenggren was to continue the job for eight more volumes. The irony of it is that he made it from the U.S.A. where he moved in 1920.