Books were a special thing in my house growing up. We had bookcases chock full of books all over the house. There were kids' books on kid-accessible shelves, but then there were the special kids' books that our mom or dad would have to pull off the shelf and read to us. Two of our favorites were Andersens' and Grimms' Fairy Tales. These were the old-school, fabric-bound tomes my mom had grown up with, and the illustrated plates were gorgeous to gaze at.
So, when I came across this post on Drawn! about Kay Nielsen, I was really excited. I didn't know this, but apparently the same illustrator of some of my favorite images from those Fairy Tales also went to work at Disney later in life.
Although his story ends sadly (see a great history and some gorgeous examples of his work here), he left behind some gorgeous pre-production artwork for "The Little Mermaid", and was posthumously credited once Disney finally did make the movie. You can see the art at The Scepter's LiveJournal page. I would love to see this compiled into a book and let it stand with the traditional story. It seems a shame not to share with our new generations, as well as those of us adults who would still love to peruse it endlessly.
If you want to see more, ASIFA Hollywood has some other great posts filled with Kay's gorgeous illustrations from "East of the Sun and West of the Moon" (the first image here is a sample from that post) as well as "Twelve Dancing Princesses", both of which show his Art Deco and Japanese influences, and some of his Danish heritage thrown in there too (which makes me wonder if that was part of what drew me to all of these styles later in life). I need to track down those books I grew up with, but in the meantime, I've got these digital versions to bring me back to my childhood.
Here are a few of my favorites from The Scepter's page - go check out the rest!