Saturday, March 2, 2013

Saturday's postcard: Illustration of Hänsel und Gretel

This creased old postcard features an Otto Kubel illustration of a scene from "Hansel and Gretel."1 I love the attention to detail — the hanging basket, the father sleeping in the bed, the white cat and the firewood piled by the door.2

Kubel was a German painter who lived from 1868 to 1951. It appears that one of his specialties was scenes from fairy tales, and one of his pieces of Little Red Riding Hood artwork is available as a modern reprint.

The back of the postcard is unused and features an lengthy German-language excerpt from "Hänsel und Gretel." Using Google Translate and a little editing, it comes out roughly like this:
"1. A poor wood hacker had two children, Hansel and Gretel. When inflation was high, he could no longer afford their daily bread. In the night, the parents3 agreed that they would take the children into the woods and leave them, so that they could no longer find the way home. Hansel heard this and collected stones from around the house. He wanted to spread them out to find the way back home."
And thus we have the clever Hänsel collecting stones in the Kubel illustration.

Finally, here's the logo from the back of the postcard.

Here's what the Metropolitan Postcard Club of New York City has to say regarding Uvachrom:
"A Uvachrom is the product of a subtractive mordant dye tone process for the printing of color photographs, patented by Arhur Traube in 1916. It required multiple transparencies making it a difficult and expensive technique so it never gained widespread commercial use. This method was used to produce color postcards published under the Uvachrom name, and book illustrations for the Union of Color Photography (Farbwenphotographie)."
1. A few random and unrelated things:
  • "Hansel" and "Gretel" are shortened forms of Johannes and Margarete, according to Wikipedia.
  • SurLaLune Fairy Tales offers a fabulous annotated version of "Hansel and Gretel" that features 59 in-depth footnotes. Fairy-tale geek heaven!
  • "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" looks really stupid. I feel a rant about all of these modern TV and movie retellings of the classic fairy tales coming on one of these days.
2. I think I might question the artist's depiction of the house in the forest as having a red-brick-and-mortar foundation.
3. The "parent" driving this decision was, of course, the children's evil and abusive stepmother. A lot of otherwise-decent men made poor choices when picking their second wife in fairy tales.

No comments:

Post a Comment