THE GENESIS OF THE PROFESSIONAL ILLUSTRATION OF LATVIAN CHILDREN'S BOOKS UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF EUROPEAN ART (Latviesu bernu gramatu grafikas pirmsakumi Eiropas makslas ierosmes)
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Graphic illustration of Latvian children's books began at the professional level only in the 20th century, as part of the active development of the national book industry and professional fine art in Latvia, beginning in the late 19th century. Also of importance were expanded opportunities to study graphic illustrations meant for children that were produced abroad. The initial efforts at producing graphics for children's books in Latvia involved differing types of books. This article looks most particularly at the first professionally illustrated children's books in the area of folklore. Among the artists who worked in this field were Rihards Zarins, Eduards Brencens, Janis Zegners, Alberts Kronenbergs and Janis Tillbergs, whose works exposed link with German Late Romanticism (illustrations by Zarins and Brencens) and with works of English artist Walther Crane and Russian artists Jekaterina Polenova and Ivan Bilibin who, on their turn, were influenced by Art Nouveau (illustrations by Zegners, Kronenbergs and Tillbergs). The first truly splendid example of an illustrated children's book was the Tillbergs-illustrated folk story 'Misinbardis', which was published in 1913 in the form of an album (notebook) - a style that was popular at the turn of the century. The illustrations were printed separately from the text, and the entire work was printed on high-quality paper. 'Misinbardis' was quite reminiscent of album-type children's books that were at the time being produced by the Russian artists association 'Mir Iskusstva' (The World of Art). From the very beginning, the work of professional Latvian artists in the area of children's books demonstrated ties to the patriarchal foundations of understanding their country and their environment. In terms of stylistics there was the use of techniques from late Romanticism and Art Nouveau. In Latvia, however, illustrations meant for children from the very start avoided over-saturation with details, idyllic beautification or open didactics - elements which were not rare in imported picture books.
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