Pictures by MAURICE SENDAK
Harper and Row 1971
|Maurice Sendak in 1971 at the International Youth Library in Munich|
In 1971 Harper and Row Publishers in New York produced a beautifully packaged set of prints which featured handsomely reproduced artwork from eight of Maurice Sendak's books. Nineteen prints in all, housed loosely in a large covered case. The case was decorated with a repeating pattern that Sendak used as an endpaper design for Hector Protector and As I Went Over the Water. Included were prints from pen and ink drawings as well as beautiful watercolor art, all of which were specially selected and annotated by the artist.
This portfolio was a valued part of my Sendak collection and I had always planned on framing some of the prints. Unfortunately, the humidity from our riverside home got into the box before I realized it was happening and the case along with several prints were ruined.
I decided to feature the portfolio on this site as a way to preserve it for myself and as a vehicle for Sendak's own words to combine with the images he so masterfully created.
|endpapers, detail, Hector Protector|
Affection and a suitably prejudiced view of my own work bind these nineteen pictures together. They are some of the pictures I like best, selected from eight of the seventy books I have illustrated over the past twenty years. …
The influence of Victorian artists such as George Pinwell and Arthur Hughes, to name just two, is evident in the pictures for Higglety Pigglety Pop! (1967), Zlateh the Goat (1966), and A Kiss for Little Bear (1968). And I’ve learned from other English artists as well. Randolph Caldecott gave me my first demonstration of the subtle uses of rhythm and structure in a picture book. (Hector Protector and As I Went Over the Water of 1965, represented here by one illustration, is an intentionally contrived homage to this beloved teacher.) For other fine points in picture-book making, I have studied the work of Beatrix Potter and William Nicholson. Nicholson’s The Pirate Twins certainly influenced Where the Wild Things Are.
A retrospective of my English passion can be found in Lullabies and Night Songs (1965). The illustrations for this book, which skip from Rowlandson to Cruikshank to Caldecott and even to Blake, are a noisy pastiche of styles, though I believe they still resonate with my own particular sound. The three offered here are definitely favorites, despite their obvious eclecticism.
The earliest pictures in this portfolio are from Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present (1962), as far as I am aware the only book I’ve done that reveals my admiration for Winslow Homer.
Where the Wild Things Are (1963), a favorite child, is represented by four illustrations. Besides owing much to Caldecott and Nicholson, this book must acknowledge stylistic kinship to French and German book illustration of the nineteenth century. I was thirty-five when I did Wild Things, still looking to Europe and back a hundred years for creative roots. My immediate past, everything I grew up with, though tenderly treasured in memory, was useless to me as an artist; or so I apparently believed.
The unconscious, thank heavens, goes its own way, ignoring the mumbo-jumbo sophistries of the head up front. Wild Things, despite its European credentials, is the first book of mine in which I see a glimmer of interest in confronting and exploiting a kind of art I had known all my life. This is said with a good deal of hindsight and with the accomplishment of In the Night Kitchen (1970) behind me. That book is influenced not by an artistic mode of the past that I consider superior but by art that was very real and potent to a child growing up in America in the thirties and forties. Night Kitchen and, to a lesser degree, Wild Things reflect a popular American art both crass and oddly surrealistic, an art that encompasses the Empire State Building, syncopated Disney cartoons, and aluminum-clad, comic-book heroes, an Art Moderne whose richness of detail was most sensuously catalogued in the movies. What Caldecott is to Hector Protector, King Kong is to Wild Things. What the Victorian illustrators are to Higglety Pigglety Pop!, Busby Berkeley and Mickey Mouse are to Night Kitchen. This is oversimplification, of course, but the truth lies somewhere inside. …
(excerpts from his annotations included in the portfolio)April 1971
These, then, is a sampling of the illustrations included as prints in the portfolio. I have also shown the covers for the books from which the illustrations were taken.
Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present (1962)
Zlateh the Goat (1966)
|(part of the print is cut off, but it is such a good reproduction that I decided to include it in spite of the partial image,|
plus it is a photgraph of the actual print as included in the portfolio,)
|(this reproduction shows the gutter of the book, but is otherwise excellent)|
|book cover with |
Caldecott Honor medal
George Pinwell 1842-1875
|The Lost Child|
Arthur Hughes 1832-1915
|Home from the Sea|
|The Property Room|
Randolph Caldecott 1846-1886
|A Farmer Went Trotting upon his Grey Mare|
Beatrix Potter 1866-1943
|from The Tale of Benjamin Bunny|
|fungi, from her botanical drawings|
William Nicholson 1872-1949
|from The Pirate Twins|
Thomas Rowlandson 1756-1827
|Exterior of Strawberry Hill|
|John Bull at the Italian Opera|
George Cruikshank 1792-1878
|a sudden lurch aboard an East-Indiaman|
|Oliver meets Fagin|
William Blake 1757-1827
Winslow Homer 1836-1910
|Boys and Kitten|
|Long Branch, New Jersey, 1869|
The Empire State Building
Disney cartoons and Mickey Mouse
Aluminum-clad, comic-book heroes
King Kong, the movie 1933
Busby Berkeley 1895-1976
|Footlight Parade 1933|
Maurice Sendak: an appreciation
Like most great children's writers and illustrators, his work came from deep within – in his case somewhere very dark
by Shirley Hughes
The Observer, Saturday 12 May 2012
Maurice Sendak, who has died aged 83, was one of the great writers and illustrators of children's literature. His imagination was deeply rooted in his own vividly remembered childhood and there is a powerful dreamlike quality to his work. He was a master draftsman, largely self-taught and in some ways quite traditional, because he was inspired by Victorian English illustrators such as Randolph Caldecott and by the Jewish European folklore of his own background. But this was mixed with the heady excitement of American comic strips and, of course, the movies. I met him once over dinner and he described his intense excitement as a child at going from his home in Brooklyn across the Brooklyn Bridge to the cinema in Manhattan to see Buster Keaton, Mickey Mouse and Laurel and Hardy, all of whom were strongly inspirational in his works.
Like most great children's story writers and illustrators, his work came from somewhere deep within, from a place that was in his case extremely dark. His childhood was overshadowed by the deaths of extended family in the concentration camps of Europe. So it is hardly surprising that the lost child, the child who is stolen away, as well as the maverick child who runs away from the stultifying strictures of adult life, were themes that Sendak returned to again and again in his work.
If you ask people what their favourite Maurice Sendak book is, they always say Where the Wild Things Are. But my personal favourite is In the Night Kitchen. It is so brilliantly scary and marvellously unsettling. Those chefs are frightening in the way that clowns and comedians can so often be. My other favourite is Outside Over There, his story of Ida, the jealous sibling whose baby sister is kidnapped by goblins through the nursery window. Again you have this theme of the lost or stolen child, so central to Sendak's work, and exerting such a deep pull for all of us.