Ivan Bilibin’s Russian Wonder Tales

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Halloween approaches so a picture of Wassilissa the Beautiful carrying a skull on a stick suits the season, as do the psilocybin-like mushrooms in the border. This edition of Russian Wonder Tales (1917) was a retelling of Russian folk tales by Post Wheeler for a British readership. Ivan Bilibin’s illustrations date from some twenty years earlier, however, and their colours are compromised by age and printing, but you at least get to see them with their stories in English. Among the pictures below there’s a nice portrait of the ever-bizarre Baba Yaga scooting through the forest.

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Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The illustrators archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Diaghilev’s World of Art
The art of Ivan Bilibin, 1876–1942

4 thoughts on “Ivan Bilibin’s Russian Wonder Tales”

  1. Ha, that’s one I’d not seen before. I like his drawing of the Firebird, half-thinking of posting it again tomorrow.

  2. I’ve got a 1973 English-language copy of the Frog Princess but published in Russia by the Ministry of Finance (!), translated by Bernard Isaacs. I just looked up the 1917 version and the language of the 1973 version is really perfunctory by comparison. But it is fully-illustrated in colour, *and* with metallic silver accents, so there’s that. And apart from the reds and blues, the rest of the colours are pretty muted, I think that’s just the palette Bilbin used.

    (I might even get around to blogging about the book myself, I did mean to at some point!)

    And I love Lionstein!

  3. Pan Books brought out a large-format paperback survey of Bilibin’s work, back in 1981 (seemingly in collaboration with a Russian publisher, Aurora, who published the Russian version at the same time, so they had access to the original artwork). Lots of his black-&-white graphic material.

    It didn’t include Wassilissa the Beautiful with her Sithrak-onna-Stick, though.

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