Kay Nielsen's Little Mermaid
November 19, 2013 2:12 PM   Subscribe

Kay Nielsen, a Danish illustrator who was popular in the early 20th century, the "golden age of illustration", contributed artwork for many Disney films, including concept paintings for a proposed adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson's The Little Mermaid. The adaptation was to be part of a package film containing various segments based on Anderson's fairy tales. The film, however, was not made within Nielsen's lifetime and his work went unused until production started on the 1989 film.

Shout out to Good Job Brain for illuminating the story of the development of the Little Mermaid movie.
posted by latkes (6 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
The style definitely wasn't picked up, but some of the work appears to have obviously influenced the decisions of the Disney animators. Neat.
posted by Atreides at 2:41 PM on November 19, 2013


This one, of the mermaid watching a party on the ship from the sea, made me think of Grendel, another watery being who hears human music from afar. I feel a little foolish for not noticing the comparison before now, actually.
posted by stebulus at 3:34 PM on November 19, 2013

Wow, how psychedelic would this have been, fully animated in 1940's Disney style? Makes some of my favorite sequences from Fantasia look a little less anomalous.
posted by Rustmouth Snakedrill at 6:31 PM on November 19, 2013

These are gorgeous! Thanks for posting.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 6:39 PM on November 19, 2013

Exquisite! This one is my favorite, where she's swimming with the whales. (Dolphins?)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:15 PM on November 19, 2013

This is great; Kay Nielsen is one of the most amazing of the Golden Age illustrators. Seriously, scroll down through this collection of his work at Brainpickings or do your own image search, for just a hint of the brilliant composition, color and linework. One of my fave illustrators, right up there with Walter Crane.
posted by mediareport at 8:34 PM on November 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

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