“The Frog Princess”, published in 1901

I loved reading when I was little. I've been consuming an increasing amount of literature since I was three, going from children's books to pulp for teens and classics. My, so to speak, library contained a lot of fairy tales, all illustrated with bright, colorful, yet flat illustrations.

Time went on, my reading list, though it remained decent, became shorter. One could attribute such an event to the unfortunate lack of illustrations in adult books. But I still sometimes return to my favorite fairy tales, and the always manage to warm my slowly freezing heart. And though the books themselves might be old, worn, and badly made, I read them for the plot. the rest is inconsequential, right?

Wrong. Let me tell you a story.
There once lived an artist in Russia, named, appropriately, Ivan, from the Bilibin family. Ivan Bilibin was no simple man. An accomplished artist, he was mainly involved with theatre, working on decorations and costumes, painting for different clients. He even designed the Russian coat of arms after the February revolution. But that's not what he is famous for.

He is mostly renowned for his illustrations to the Russian fairy tales, commissioned by the Russian Empire. When seeing them for the first time, I admired the colors, the thickness, the saturation of these pictures. Despite being still, they were filled with a hidden wondrous dynamic. Behind the illustrations there was a magical world. And while they couldn't move, it was obvious they were active in the fairy tale. It was as if they wanted to jump off the pages, to run around, play out the plot in front of my eyes. Pity our worlds are separated by more than paper.

Today's lot is “The Frog Princess”. Published in 1901. Original price is 75 kopecks. Approved by the Imperial censorship. And, most important of all, illustrated by a real magician. And a magician's brush leaves a fairy trail.


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