Myths, legends and fairy tales

“Once Upon a Time” is a phrase that we know means our imaginations are about to be taken on an adventure. Fairy tales, myths, and legends often begin with these words, and what follows are fantastical, colourful, absurd tales filled with all sorts of people, animals, and otherworldly creatures. Writers across the Western world began collecting and transcribing local folklore during the 18th and early 19th centuries, and these collected works were hugely popular. In the last quarter of the 19th century, several social and technological advances led to a boom in illustrated volumes of these tales, in what would come to be known as “the Golden Age of Illustration”.

  • Golden age of illustration

    Maastricht University’s Special Collections hold 56 richly illustrated fairy tale books from the so-called Golden Age of Illustration, which occurred between the 1880s and the 1930s. The Golden Age of Illustration, which largely cantered in England, came about through a confluence of social and economic factors, including increased literacy, more people with expendable income, and improvements in lithography that allowed for the production of cheaper, yet higher-quality, full-color illustrated books. Maastricht University’s Golden Age of Illustration Collection belonged to Dutch graphic designer, illustrator, cartoonist, art teacher, author, book cover designer, and art collector Bernard Reith (1894-1974).
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