Sunday, 23 August 2009

Joyce Mercer's Illustrations for The Classic Fairy Tales of Hans Andersen

Robert Brandon's introduction to the 1935 edition of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales describes Joyce Mercer's style as 'inimitable and peculiarly individualistic; her treatment exemplary. Children cannot fail to be interested in the marvellous colour drawings and the subtle humour of the black and white; and grown ups will appreciate them also.'

The craft of the line in these illustrations is extremely elegant and calligraphic - and, graphically, extremely satisfying, particularly in the vignettes, with their sense of balance and consistency in the character and concentration of line work. They would look quite at home next to a treble clef. Unfortunately, these 1992 prints of the illustrations do not do justice to the precision and sharpness of the original drawings. The colour illustrations have a 'stained glass' look to them and use flowing black lines to contain some areas of colour, while other colours bleed into each other to create a marble effect.