The Grimm Brothers Essay

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The Grimm Brothers

Any good fairy tale may captivate a child’s (or adult’s) mind, but few could argue that, to be truly enchanting, a tale needs great illustrations. Two of the most influential fairy tale tellers in history were the German Grimm brothers, Jacob and Wilhelm. Both very intelligent scholars, they knew how to spin a tale in the most effective way possible. However, they had plenty of work just dealing with the tales’ text, so in the area of illustration, they let their younger brother Ludwig take over, beginning with the second edition of their fairy tales.

The fifth child of six in the Grimm family, Ludwig, who was always called Louis, did not necessarily follow in the scholarly footsteps of his two older brothers.
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His landscapes included tranquil pastoral views from his home principality of Hesse-Kassel and busy urban scenes from cities like Berlin. He also pictured the interiors of buildings and gardens, often with grand parties and important meetings shown in their midst. Showing an interest in nature, Ludwig even made drawings of some varieties of plants and insects. He worked in many styles and media, too, ranging from rough sketches to detailed engravings, from blurred watercolors to meticulous drawings. One of Ludwig’s greatest artistic gifts was his ability to give very real personalities to the faces of his subjects by using various facial expressions and a masterful command of the different positions and characteristics of the eyes. This ability, along with his interest in nature and his use of a myriad of subjects, including all types of people and landscapes, lent itself well to the illustration of fairy tales.

The second edition of the first volume of the Grimms’ Fairy Tales marked Ludwig’s first involvement with fairy tales. Achim von Arnim, who lent money, editing and publishing services, and advice to the Grimms, had only one criticism of the enormously successful first edition of Fairy Tales: it needed illustrations. The logical choice to fill this void in the second edition was Ludwig, who made a series of engravings to accompany the text published in 1819. Since that book was published, nearly every
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