Lisbeth Zwerger’s Fairy Tale Art

Myra here.

Widget Handcrafted by Iphigene for GatheringBooks.

While I confess to not having found the time to read these two gorgeous books by Lisbeth Zwerger, I figured that was not reason enough not to share with all of you that they exist and are out there in the world, waiting for you to find them.

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In Wonderment: The Lisbeth Zwerger Collection, Zwerger illustrated six stories in all: Little Hobbin by Theodor Storm, The Nutcracker by E. T. A. Hoffman, The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde, The Gift Of The Magi by O. Henry, The Deliverers of Their Country by E. Nesbit, and How The Camel Got His Hump by Rudyard Kipling.

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The inimitable Peter Sis also has this to say about Zwerger’s art in his Foreword:

Her shapes and her colors are magic and inspiring. And it is so fluid. Tells so much of a story which one can only imagine.

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It is like visiting the museum of stories with staircases made of hues and grays and blues – oh, and indigo – on Sunday afternoon and being in the white room full of Breughel paintings – all dancing and swirling – the red dress or black hat catching your eye.

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Doorways – opening. And your grandmother with great imagination makes you comfortable in the soft armchair and feeds you rich cake while you listen to her stories, until the lamplighter casts the shadows over the cobble streets…

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She – Lisbeth Zwerger – can do magic things with her art. With her colors. With her composition. You float and dream with her. And she gives you color treats on your journey! Oh, and they are special! It feels so good to be with her…

Here are some of my favourite images from Wonderment – and see for yourself how Peter Sis is so absolutely spot-on in his depiction of Zwerger’s art:

I find that the muted style and subtle watercolours all add to the shadowy depths of the narrative. My heart is also filled knowing our young people will have access to such beauty, so much of it, through the pages of this book.

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Unlike the depiction of Grimm’s fairy tales interpreted by Maurice Sendak and Shaun Tan that I have shared here, Lisbeth Zwerger’s delicate art shows the ethereal, divine, almost-vaporous quality of the Grimm tales suffused with magic and enchantment.

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Zwerger selected eleven stories from the Grimm collection to feature in this thick book: The Frog King or Iron Henry, The Wolf and The Seven Young Kids, Hansel and Gretel,

The Brave Little Tailor, The Seven Ravens, Little Red Cap,

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The Bremen Town Musicians, Briar Rose, The Poor Miller’s Boy and The Little Cat,

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Hans My Hedgehog, and The Children of Hamelin. Each story unfolds like a dream, the eerie and the strange made into something more alluring and captivating through Zwerger’s art. In Werner Thusnelder’s Foreword, he wrote:

The illustrator Lisbeth Zwerger, who has won the highest international distinctions, devoted herself very early to the fairy tale genre, and attracted attention with her surprisingly new vision of the old material. The course of her wide-ranging artistic development can be traced through her work on the tales of the brothers Grimm that are included in this book.

Here are a few of my favourites from this book:

These are two books that you should definitely add to your fairy tale collection. Zwerger’s art transports you to another world and will make you not want to leave it. 

  1. Gorgeous! They look like a “must have.”

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  2. Wow! Those illustrations are so alluring. I love how you captured so many of the beautiful pages. I am going to head to my library to see if I can get a copy of them. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. I want to spend more time with each piece. Thanks for sharing this. I love good and great art in the books to make the story that much better. Sometimes, it is the art that draws me into a story and then the story can take me the rest of the way!

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