Friday, January 29, 2010
Borrowing from Dulac
I was delighted to find a very nice page about my version of the Snow Queen on Sur La Lune Fairy Tales Blog by Heidi Anne Heiner.
Heidi makes a very good point about how a couple of my pictures from The Snow Queen are very reminiscent of Edmund Dulac's illustrations.
I absolutely agree.
I think at the time I was consciously echoing Dulac's work as a kind of an homage to one of my all time favourite artists. But looking back on the books now I think his snowy rooftops scene had just made such a strong impression on me that I couldn't think of any other way to approach that spread.
It's a failing that young artists in thrall to an older master have continuously made through the years, and I am happy to admit to it here, especially as it was done quite early in my career, and now I look back on my young self as being almost a different person.
I have no problem pointing out that young guy's shortcomings.
The second image is a different matter though.
I have a very strong memory of seeing Dulac's picture of the Snow Queen on her throne and thinking that, beautiful as it was, it didn't quite capture the icy regality of one of Hans Andersen's strangest characters.
The Snow Queen is not evil, but she is uncaring and selfish. Dulac makes her look rather gentle and girly which I thought was off the mark. So it was with some arrogance that I decided to try to out-do Dulac by taking on a very similar composition for this key scene in the book. I think I was actually inviting the comparison. I had quite a nerve in those days.
Although Dulac wins hands down on the snowy rooftops, I think my version of the Snow Queen enthroned stands up pretty well, particularly since I digitally enhanced the image for the new edition.
I still think Dulac's work is sublime, and I often look to him for inspiration. In his Golden Age work his sense of design and sureness of touch are second to none....not even the great Arthur Rackham.
And somehow, I don't think he would mind my borrowings too much.