In the late 1910s, in a Europe ravaged by World War I, Danish illustrator Kay Nielsen put the finishing touches on his illustrations of A Thousand and One Nights. The results are considered masterpieces of early 20th-century illustration: bursting with sumptuous colors of deep blues, reds, and gold leaf, and evoking all the magic of this legendary collection of Indo-Persian and Arabic folktales, compiled between the 8th and 13th centuries.
In the financially strapped postwar climate, however, publishers retreated from Nielsen’s project and the publication never happened. A rising star, Nielsen moved on to other work, and the spectacular pen, ink, and watercolor images of this world heritage classic remained under lock and key for 40 years. Published just once in the 1970s, the illustrations were rescued from oblivion after Nielsen’s death in 1957 and are now held by the UCLA Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, the Art Institute of Chicago, and in two private collections.
Published for the first time ever in five colors including gold, this unique presentation of fine art prints revives all 21 strikingly beautiful illustrations reproduced directly from Nielsen’s original watercolors—the only complete set of his beloved illustrations to have survived. Each illustration is presented individually in an extra-large format and on fine art paper, allowing Nielsen’s graphic mastery and rich array of influences, from Art Nouveau to Japanese woodcuts to Indian painting, to dazzle.
The set includes a 144-page hardcover book also printed in five colors, featuring descriptions of all of the images, and three generously illustrated essays on the making of this series, the origin of Nielsen’s unique imagery, and a history of the tales. In addition, the accompanying book features many unpublished or rarely seen artworks by Nielsen, as well as all 23 of the incredibly intricate black-and-white drawings Nielsen also created for the original publication. This is a rare chance to own exceptional reproductions of this highly influential artist’s only surviving complete set of watercolors.
Limited and numbered edition of 5,000 copies.
Noel Daniel is a graduate of Princeton University and a former Fulbright Scholar to Berlin. She earned an MA in London and was director of a photography gallery before editing books. Her TASCHEN publications include Kay Nielsen's A Thousand and One Nights and East of the Sun and West of the Moon, The Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, The Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen, Wintertime Tales, Magic, and The Circus.
Cynthia Burlingham has been Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles since 2011. She is also the director of the UCLA Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts, a position she assumed in 2005 after holding various curatorial positions at the Grunwald Center. She has curated numerous exhibitions and has lectured and written extensively on the history of prints and drawings from the 16th through the 20th century.
Margaret Sironval received a PhD in literature from the Sorbonne, and was a researcher at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in Paris from 1981 to 2005. She has published numerous articles and organized exhibitions on A Thousand and One Nights. She is the author of The Album of A Thousand and One Nights (2005) and A Thousand and One Nights (2011), in which she analyzes the transmission of the tales.
British art historian Colin White specializes in early-20th-century illustration, including the work of golden age legends Edmund Dulac, Jessie M. King, Thomas Mackenzie, and Kay Nielsen. His published works include biographies of Dulac and King, a forthcoming biography of Nielsen, and an essay in TASCHEN’s East of the Sun and West of the Moon (2015). He has also written on sentimentality in art, Edward Ardizzone, and W. B. Yeats.
Kay Nielsen’s A Thousand and One Nights
Edition of 5,000
Noel Daniel, Cynthia Burlingham, Margaret Sironval, Colin White
Hardcover with 21 fine art prints in a box, 42 x 42 cm, 144 pages
Multilingual Edition: English, French, German
“TASCHEN is possibly the only publisher that could do