Storytelling – getting the pictures from my head into yours





Lustschlößchen in Amönau (Hesse, Germany) – template for Rapunzel tower – this, in some ways, is what storytellers do: when they describe some fantastic scene or other they usually have something real in their head. Or do you disagree?


Ubbelohde’s Frog Prince

Ubbelohde's Frog Prince

which is a Frog-King in German and Slav languages…
Ubbelohde also chooses real buildings as the models for his fairytale settings.


Schmidhammer’s bookcover

Schmidhammer's bookcover

which is also the last picture in the book – see what i mean about the use of green – and the forester/huntsman is wearing the traditional costume, like the hunters in Wilhelm Busch or Bugs Bunny, with the leggings! You can find the book at


Schmidhammer’s Little Red Riding Hood

Schmidhammer's Little Red Riding Hood

What a scary forest! What a scary wolf! What a wonderful green he had available for the whole book!


Arpad Schmidhammer’s version of The Golden Goose

Arpad Schmidhammer's version of The Golden Goose

Schmidhammer is an exciting illustrator of Grimm stories whom I’ve just discovered – and I want to keep quiet about the books he illustrated during WW1.

The Magic Carpet

magic carpetThis is by Victor Vasnetsov, and brings a  certain Russian realism to the world of Araby. I haven’t yet read a story from the Arabian Nights which contains a flying carpet. Flying horses, yes, flying carpets, no. I feel I would need to know exactly what kind of carpet it  was, and where it was woven, and by whom, before I would trust it. Remember, too, that every weaver is supposed to weave in a deliberate mistake, because perfection is only for Allah, and given that a strict view of the Quran would forbid representation of any living creature, the pattern would probably contain writing, and who knows what that would say…?


bogatyriI’ve already mentioned them on my page on Russian Tales, the knights-errant from Kiev, but here is Viktor Vasnetsov’s painting of the three most famous, whose adventures are told in various byliny: Dobryna Nikitich [the courageous one] is on the left, Alyosha Popovich [the clever one] is on the right, and Ilya of Murom [the honest one] is in the middle. A full-length 1956 film about Ilya Muromets is here, with subtitles, and the English-language version is here.

As you can see, Bilibin is not the only brilliant artist. And Vasnetsov was given the honour of a Google Doodle.