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Kay Nielsen is one of the most famous illustrators of children's books. Along with Arthur Rackham and Edmund Dulac, he pioneered the medium of book illustration in the early part of the 20th century. He later worked for Walt Disney on "Fantasia", designing the monster Chernabog in "Night on Bald Mountain", and the procession of acolytes in the "Ave Maria" sequence that ends the picture.

Nielsen was a born in Denmark in 1886. His father was the director of the Royal Danish Theatre. He studied art in Paris from 1904 to 1911, when he relocated to England. His first job as a book illustrator was for Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch's "In Powder and Crinoline" (also known as "Seven Dancing Princesses") in 1913. In 1914, he created his masterpiece- a series of 25 color plates for "East of the Sun and West of the Moon". This book is one of the most famous illustrated books of its day, and is often cited as the greatest illustrated children's book of all time.

Nielsen designed for the stage in Copenhagen and illustrated "Hansel and Gretel", "Fairy Tales of Hans Andersen", and a book titled "Red Magic", among others before leaving for Hollywood in 1939. He designed sequences in Fantasia and concept art for "The Little Mermaid", which was produced many years after his death. His final years were spent in poverty, painting murals for churches and schools in the Southern California area.

Today, Nielsen is admired for his romantic blend of art nouveau, Japanese design elements and graceful compositions. His books are among the rarest and most valuable illustrated books, treasured by collectors the world over.

For more information on Kay Nielsen's life and work, see...
A-HAA: Kay Nielsen
"Six Brothers Riding Out To Woo by Kay Nielsen"  by animationarchive
  • Six Brothers Riding Out To Woo by Kay Nielsen Six Brothers Riding Out To Woo by Kay Nielsen
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