graduated was because I had been arrested
by the Gestapo and that the school did not
want to see somebody who had been
arrested also fail his exams.”
Erik Blegvad on getting through school
|1986, by Pat Diska|
Erik Blegvad, a prolific children’s book artist renowned for illustrations whose fine-grained propriety could barely conceal the deep subversive wit at their core, died on Jan. 14 in London. He was 90.
Erik Blegvad was born in Copenhagen on March 3, 1923. As a youth, planning a career as an airplane mechanic, he apprenticed in a machine shop. He left the shop after the German occupation of Denmark in 1940, when it began doing work for the Nazis.
Mr. Blegvad, who had always liked to draw, entered the Copenhagen School of Arts and Crafts. Though he described himself as having been a poor student there, he was allowed to graduate — a function, he later said, of his having spent several days in a Nazi prison for distributing Danish resistance literature.
“There was a rumor that the only reason I graduated was because I had been arrested by the Gestapo and that the school did not want to see somebody who had been arrested also fail his exams,” Mr. Blegvad said in an interview quoted in the reference work Major Authors and Illustrators for Children and Young Adults.
After Germany’s defeat, Mr. Blegvad served in what is now the Royal Danish Air Force, later assisting the British as a German-to-English translator in occupied Germany. Afterward, working as a commercial illustrator in Paris, he met Lenore Hochman, an American art student there; they were married from 1950 until her death in 2008.
Mr. Blegvad, who moved with his wife to the United States in 1951 and contributed illustrations to American magazines, maintained a home in Wardsboro, Vt., for many years.
from Erik Blegvad's obituary in The New York Times by Margalit Fox
“This Little Pig-a-Wig and Other Rhymes About Pigs” (1978), which, with text chosen by Lenore Blegvad, was named one of the best illustrated children’s books of the year by The New York Times Book Review.
|1953, Blvd. St. Michel, Paris|
1957, cover art
Original edition, Macmillan 1961
|40th Anniversary Edition|
Mud Pies and Other Recipes: A Cookbook for Dolls
by Marjorie Winslow, Erik Blegvad (illustrator)
Mud Pies and Other Recipes is so superbly written and illustrated that I would have to include it on my list of favorite children's books of all time. Leon
selected, translated and illustrated by
For Erik Blegvad, born and raised in Denmark, Hans Christian Andersen`s stories have a
special significance; they were part of his childhood. Once, his grandfather even saw the
great man in the streets of Copenhagen.
My father, his father and his father's father all had drawing talent and hoped to become artists; none of them did. My mother's devotion to art was absolute, and my own attempts met only with lavish praise and encouragement from her. ...
Each of my illustrations taught me a little something, but none, I think, more than this Self-Portrait. I've learned how difficult it is to write, but also many other things about myself and my rich and lucky life. ...
There's a lazy side to me. I hold it responsible for placing a sunrise north of Copenhagen, or a sixth finger on a decorated envelope, and for occasionally making some stiff and graceless drawings.
But when my lucky side is working, I find myself concentrated at the tip of my pen. Which to my delight, proceeds to create people, objects, and worlds I never knew existed.
To have learned to observe at such an early age, to have stumbled into such a varied life, to have spent it with such extraordinary people--there's luck for you. Erik Blegvad
|recent photograph, unknown date|