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