Once Upon a Canvas: Exploring Fairy Tale Illustrations from 1870-1942

A student-run exhibition of fairy tale illustrations from Tulane’s Special Collections and from the Amoss Collection, Howard-Tilton Memorial Library; in conjunction with the course “GERM 3670: Grimm Reckonings, The Development of the German Fairy Tale,” offered during the Spring semester 2013 by the Department of Germanic & Slavic Studies at Tulane University.

Fairy Tale Illustrations: Making Fantasy an On-the-Page Reality

From the beginnings of oral tradition to contemporary literature, no other art form has proven its resilience like that of the fairy tale. Its flexibility allows it to take many forms from legend to epic and from myth to folk tale. For generations these stories have piqued our interest, entertained us, and all the while exercised a form of pedagogy. Countless authors and collectors have tweaked and manipulated these tales, adapting them for any time or place in history.

As of the late 19th century and into the early 20th, these tales have come alive on paper and canvas, further impressing their significance on the collective human psyche. When one envisions an ogre, fairy, witch, or beast, one has the imaginations of the artists showcased in this exhibit to thank. Their labors represent the contemporary manifestations of age-old traditions.

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“The Brothers Grimm (1855)”

Learn more about the Brothers Grimm

 

 “Charles Perrault (1671)” 

Learn more about Charles Perrault.

Few things stoke the reader’s imagination like a skillfully crafted image. Since
the Brothers Grimm revolutionized the folk tale tradition with their collection of stories,
illustrations have served to illuminate the characters and places readers have
come to love. Although they have served to elaborate and clarify text, they have
done something more magical: at a basic level, the fairy tale illustration has added
to the mystique of simple tales, creating visual representations of characters and
endowing simple phrases with unexpected beauty.

Read more from our student-created panels.