In the 19th century, with the work of Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, Lewis Carroll, and others, children’s fairy tales and nursery rhymes began to be widely published, documenting what was originally a rich oral tradition across western cultures. In Britain, such publications were enlivened by the work of some of the most talented artists and illustrators of the period, including Walter Crane (1845–1915), Arthur Rackham (1867–1939), and Kate Greenaway (1846–1901).
“Child’s Play? Children’s Book Illustration of 19th-Century Britain” takes a closer look at the genre. Drawing The Huntington’s art and literary collections, this small, focused exhibition includes a selection of rare drawings as well as the books themselves. Although beguiling, some of the stories and their illustrations represent the often complicated layering of the joys and fears related to childhood and child rearing.