Sinuous, Grotesque, and Fantastic.
April 8, 2013 6:39 PM   Subscribe

U.K. illustrator Kate Baylay creates gorgeous book illustrations, like these for The Olive Fairy Book.

There are more on her website. I particularly liked this Roald Dahl cover, and this Russian fairy tale illustration. The slideshow of her illustrations has some of my other favorites. (via DarkSilenceInSuburbia)
posted by benito.strauss (29 comments total) 50 users marked this as a favorite
Used to love those Fairy Books as a kid!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 6:44 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oooooo, nice. Very Beardsley...
posted by jim in austin at 6:50 PM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

Those are gorgeous. They remind me of Beardsley and Erté but she's got something different too. Thanks for the share!
posted by Athanassiel at 6:54 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

Beardsley certainly but also Kay Nielsen, with a slosh of Harry Clarke's perfervid darkness (and pointy faces.) Thanks for pointing Ms. Baylay out, extremely nice.
posted by jfuller at 7:42 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

Very Kay Nielsen...
posted by aeshnid at 7:56 PM on April 8, 2013 [6 favorites]

The poses, and maybe even some of the compositions, remind me of Yoshitaka Amano. Specifically his tarot drawings, I suppose.
posted by GameDesignerBen at 7:58 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

I was looking for a name (to put in the title) for this style of illustration, which people are providing so many examples of. Her website uses the term "Golden Age", but I'm pretty sure that term is used by comics fans to mean something completely different, so I thought it would be more confusing than useful for the average MeFite.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:09 PM on April 8, 2013

Strong Beardsley on that one, really.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:29 PM on April 8, 2013

Reminds me of both Beardsley and Rackham.
Nice stuff.
posted by BlueHorse at 8:39 PM on April 8, 2013

> I was looking for a name (to put in the title) for this style of illustration

The style is definitely a thing, but I don't ever remember running across a concise name for it. My own category tag is Art Nouveau Keeps On Having Puppies.

"Golden Age" in kids' books is different from Golden Age in comics art. It covers just about everybody who did children's book illustration during the second half of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth, and the "Golden" bit just acknowledges the fact that there were astonishingly many of these who were astonishingly good. Starting with Randolph Caldecott, for whom the Caldecott prize is named, and including (takes deep breath) Walter Crane, Julius Detmold, Edmund Dulac, Warwick Goble, Elizabeth Shippen Green, Kate Greenaway, Heinrich Leffler, Felix Lorioux, John R. Neill (special fave for the Oz books), Kay Nielsen, Ida Outhwaite, Maxfield Parrish, Beatrix Potter, Howard Pyle, Arthur Rackham, Frank Schoonover, Jessie Wilcox Smith, Gustaf Tenggren, John Tenniel, and N. C. Wyeth. And that's just the ultimate nuclear big-names list and by no means all of them. Do an image search on any of those, you won't be disappointed.
posted by jfuller at 9:00 PM on April 8, 2013 [9 favorites]

Art Nouveau Keeps On Having Puppies.
Don't forget Errol le Cain

And oh my goodness, not the same thing at all but somehow related: Bilibin.
posted by glasseyes at 9:20 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

These are fantastic thank you
posted by smoke at 10:41 PM on April 8, 2013

Art Nouveau Keeps On Having Puppies

Now I have a sock-puppet name!!
posted by _paegan_ at 10:45 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

I was thinking, "like Sidney Sime meets Pauline Baynes." But yeah, Beardsley.
posted by wobh at 12:53 AM on April 9, 2013

Fantastic - thank you.
posted by lucien_reeve at 5:01 AM on April 9, 2013

I've always thought of that style as Art Decadent. About time it had a bit of a revival; there were hints of it in the swirly minimalist bucolic that was a bit of a fad about four years ago.

(My best bet for a major new style is the machine-generated alien organic forms that are currently popular with people messing with 3D printing. Those seem to me to be developing fast and with the potential to create a genuinely new general aesthetic.)
posted by Devonian at 5:21 AM on April 9, 2013

If you've the money, I highly recommend purchasing all the Fairy Books which contain these and other artists' gorgeous illustrations from The Folio Society (scroll to the bottom for all the other Fairy Books). We have three and they're just stunning.
posted by Kitteh at 5:22 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Holy mother of pearl these are terrific.
posted by Toecutter at 6:18 AM on April 9, 2013

Oh and don't forget the great John R. Neill of Oz series fame . . .
posted by Toecutter at 6:24 AM on April 9, 2013

Beautiful artwork. Reminds me of Erté too.
posted by General Tonic at 7:14 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's interesting image-googling for Pauline Baynes because what comes up mostly is the Narnia books and LOtR covers. She did some lovely stuff for The Arabian Nights; looks like the book is cheap secondhand. (warning for unreconstructed views about race in the text.)

If you've got the money! £44 per book and there are 10 of them! How much is that in dollars? Mind you the Folio Society also do facsimile Edwardian editions of Grimms, HCA etc with illustrations by Rackham, Du Lac and I forget who else.
posted by glasseyes at 7:25 AM on April 9, 2013

This reminds me of a previous post I enjoyed. (That is to say Virginia Frances Sterrett if anyone is trying a Ctrl-F.)
posted by rowancluster at 8:34 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

I actually don't like these - they don't seem to have their own life; they seem a studied recreation of artists like Kay Nielsen. But the thing is, we already HAD a Kay Nielsen, you know?
posted by Windigo at 10:03 AM on April 9, 2013

Kitteh, are the stories in the book good? I managed to find that Folio Society page after I made the post, and $85 is a lot for just the illustrations, lovely as they are.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:06 AM on April 9, 2013

Hmmm. Well, they are if you're fond of classic fairy tales, but if they're not likely something you'll want to read again and again, I wouldn't bother. We only got the ones we have because they came free with one of the occasional super great offers that the Folio Society sometimes does (particularly around Christmastime).
posted by Kitteh at 10:44 AM on April 9, 2013

This thread has been such a revelation! Now I have Kay Nielsen to obsess over too. Awesome stuff.
posted by Toecutter at 12:21 PM on April 9, 2013

Kitteh, are the stories in the book good?

You can give them all a read online.

Personally, I think Andrew Lang was a great writer who sourced a staggering variety of stories. However, he was also a product of his time, and the writing/content etc reflects that. I loved them as a kid.
posted by smoke at 2:58 PM on April 9, 2013 [4 favorites]

It's great that the Fairy Books are all online for free, but for me they're not the same without the illustrations. I pored over them as a child, and devoured the stories that went with them. I have a couple of the books now (sourced cheaply from second-hand bookstores for the most part) and although the stories are sometimes odd, it's in that way that fairy tales are usually odd to the adult mind. The illustrations remain gorgeous. I agree with smoke, their variety and breadth is amazing - along with a few other seminal books of fairy tales, they gave me a worldwide perspective on/fascination with folklore that I've never lost.
posted by Athanassiel at 8:37 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Unfortunately the ones I linked to don't have the illustrations, but I believe a few of the editions on Project Gutenberg do. I agree with you wholeheartedly, especially in regard to H.J Ford's illustrations (much more so than Lancelot Speed's. I feel like Ford was one of the all-time greats).

Indeed those illustrations and the stories had a huge impact on me as a reader and person.
posted by smoke at 9:19 PM on April 9, 2013

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