Fairytales from the North is a beautiful volume of fairytales illustrated by Swedish artist Einar Nerman. The book was published in 1946, and is a little masterpiece of clear graphic style, outstanding line work and quite some whimsical quality despite the initial impression of clean-cut sober style. In black and white, the illustrations are dead-on classical penmanship, and in color they are sumptious! I love it!
Einar Nerman (6 October 1888, in Norrköping – 1983) was a Swedish artist. He was born and grew up in middle-class family in the working-class city of Norrköping and was the younger brother of the Swedish Communist leader Ture Nerman. Einar Nerman also had a twin brother, Birger Nerman, who was an archeologist.
Einar Nerman dropped out of his Norrköping Gymnasium High School in 1905 and moved to Stockholm to study art. In 1908 he moved to France for many years to pursue his interest in art, studying with Matisse at the Academie Matisse in Paris.
When he came back to Sweden in 1912 he started studying music and taking dance lessons. In the 1920s Nerman lived in London and drew images for The Tatler. During World War II, he lived and worked in New York.
Einar Nerman wrote songs and music and composed music to many of his brother Ture Nerman’s poems. He also made many of the artistic book covers for his Communist brother’s published writings.
Einar Nerman also made illustrations for many of the books by Selma Lagerlöf. In Sweden today, he is mostly known, or unknown, for being the man behind the art of the Solstickan matchbox. He also made some famous drawings of Greta Garbo, one of which was used on a postage stamp in 2005, a hundred years after the moviestar’s birth.
A book of his drawings appeared in 1976: Caught in the Act (Harrap, London) with an introduction by his friend, lyricist Sandy Wilson. It contained many caricatures of friends in the London theatre world. From 1922 to 1930 he was the theatre cartoonist for The Tatler and also worked for the fashionable magazine Eve. The book is dedicated to Ivor Novello whom he had met in Stockholm in 1918. In the 1940s in New York he worked for the Journal-American. There is much additional information in Caught in the Act, as well as examples of his work, sometimes said to be “Beardsleyesque.”