Friday, March 14, 2014

Erik Blegvad 1923-2014

“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.”

     Erik Blegvad on getting through school

1986, by Pat Diska

Erik Blegvad
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)

Any doll chef will tell you that no supermarket is as well-stocked as a forest, a sand dune, or your own backyard; and everyone knows that "dolls love mud, when properly prepared."

For forty years, Mud Pies and Other Recipes has been the consummate cookbook for dolls, using only the finest ingredients found outside. All of the perennial doll favorites are here, including Dandelion Souffle, Wood Chip Dip, and, of course, Mud Pies.

This special 40th anniversary hardcover edition includes a Tea Party in the menu section, so that dolls with discriminating palates will be prepared for every social occasion. Erik Blegvad's classically fetching illustrations provide the perfect dressing for Marjorie Winslow's outdoor cookbook for dolls.
          from the book jacket

Fortieth Anniversary Hardcover Edition

Published March 1st 2001 by Walker Childrens

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

1987, Atheneum

Twelve tales

selected, translated and illustrated by

Erik Blegvad


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.

1979, Addison-Wesley

     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

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