Gustaf Tenggren's World

Gustaf Tenggren
awarded member of
Society of Illustrators'
Hall of Fame 1917

See images from the event

The book on Gustaf
Commercial art
Disney period
Golden Books
Dogfish Head
Image Gallery


Gustaf Tenggren's illustrations

Gustaf Tenggren's teacher at the Valand school of Art, Axel Erdmann, constantly encouraged his pupils to attend artistic areas where they could get an outcome. Illustration was a dedicated branch at school and many of Gustaf's fellow students chose to become illustrators. Gustaf, already in his twenties, started to draw for books and magazines, and illustration was to be his foremost form of expression all through his life.>

Den underbare prinsen, 1916

He worked in many medias; during his first twenty years, watercolors was the material he preferred, applied on top of a thin, sensitive ink line. The procedure was common with the generation of artists working within the tradition acquainted to "The Golden age of Illustration", for example Edmund Dulac, Arthur Rackham or John Bauer. 

A bullfight in Lima, 1919

From the start of the forties, Gustaf Tenggren moved to paining in tempera, causing faster production and allowing alterations. From his apprentice period at the lithographer's shops och from the Valand School of Art, he had a thorough graphical education that came to use during his commissions for The Golden Press. Many of the Big Golden Books where made only in black crayon and india ink. After that he chose four-color blends from color charts, and the colors were added during the printing process, a method similar to the one used when printing original art lithographies.

Seldom and the Golden Cheese, 1935

His specialty was detailed renderings of historical and mythological figures: west indian pirates, persian kalifas, greek warriors or medieval knights. In that area, he excelled in clothing styles, decorations and fabric painting in a spectacular range of color. But the most important thing was the human individual.

The Tenggren Tell-It-Again Book, 1942

To describe living and expressive people, each and everyone with his own body stature and anatomy, sense and character, was his greatest concern. By making the people in his illustrations so real, he made the fairy tales he illustrated yet more true.

Grimm's Fairy Tales, 1920
Heidi, 1923
Wonder Book and Tanglewood Tales, 1923
The Red Fairy Book, 1924
Sing for America, 1944
Pirates, Ships and Sailors, 1950