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A close up of an illustration in a fairytale book with Hansel and Gretel on display.
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John M. Olin Library, Level 1, Julian Edison Department of Special Collections Reading Room

Powder, Crinoline, Beasts, Gremlins: Fairytale Subjects in Illustration

Fairytales were a popular subject for books during the Golden Age of Illustration and continue to be so today. The emergence of the children’s book as its own genre resulted in fairytales that have been drawn and redrawn by many of the great illustrators of the 19th and 20th centuries.

The books for the exhibition on display in glass cases with a banner alongside the case with the exhibition name and details in smaller print.
The Powder, Crinoline, Beasts, Gremlins: Fairytale Subjects in Illustration exhibition on display in the Julian Edison Department of Special Collections’ Reading Room.

From powerful knights and beautiful damsels to innocent children and grotesque creatures, fairytales are rife with characters and icons who have taken on lives of their own in books through the centuries. Showcased in the Powder, Crinoline, Beasts, Gremlins exhibition are several examples of fairytale illustrations from the Rare Books Collections and Dowd Illustration Research Archive, which explore how many great illustrators approached their takes on stories told over and over again.

Four fairytale books open to display colorful illustrations on display under a glass case.
Six fairytale books, some shown open to colorful illustrations, on display in a glass case.

This exhibition was organized by Master of Fine Arts in Illustration and Visual Culture Candidate Tori Forster for Washington University Libraries.