Gustaf Tenggren was born in Sweden in 1896. Throughout the 1920s, he illustrated children’s books and fairy tales in a richly detailed style similar to Arthur Rackham and Kay Nielsen. In 1936, Walt Disney brought Tenggren to Hollywood to work on Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs. His designs for the Dwarfs’ cottage and the forest were directly incorporated into the film by the layout artists.
The experience of working at Disney changed Tenggren’s artistic outlook. He abandoned the European illustrator style for a simpler, more direct, stylized approach. He illustrated the most iconic Golden Books… The Poky Little Puppy, The Saggy Baggy Elephant, The Shy Little Kitten and The Tawny Scrawny Lion, and he continued to paint for Western Publishing until his death in the early sixties.
Tenggren’s Golden Books are exemplified by bold, clear compositions; a harmonious use of color and masterful rendering of a variety of textures. This book, The Little Trapper, is one of Tenggren’s least often seen titles. Published in 1950, several years before DIsney’s Davy Crockett popularized the coonskin cap, this book includes some disarmingly beautiful paintings. In particular, notice how Tenggren renders the fur. It’s a different technique every time.
This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit spotlighting Illustration.