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Kay Nielsen
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Artist
    (March 12, 1886-June 21, 1957)
    Born in Copenhagen, Denmark
    Danish 'Art nouveau' Illustrator
    Birth name was Kay Rasmus Nielsen
    Popular figure in the early 20th century's 'Golden Age of Illustration'
    Enjoyed mainstream success illustrating the popular 'gift books' of the early 1900s
    Provided colour plates and monotone illustrations for Sir Arthur Quiller Couch's 'In Powder and Crinoline, Fairy Tales Retold' (1913), 'East of the Sun and West of the Moon' (1914), 'Fairy Tales by Hans Andersen' (1924), ' Hansel and Gretel, and Other Stories by the Brothers Grimm' (1925), and 'Red Magic' (1930)
    Commissioned by The Illustrated London News to illustrate their Christmas edition, producing monotone drawings for Charles Perrault's 'Sleeping Beauty,' 'Puss in Boots,' 'Cinderella,' and 'Bluebeard' (1913)
    Also known for collaborating with The Walt Disney Company in the late 1930s and early 40s
    Produced illustrations depicting the life of Joan of Arc accompanying Andrew Lang's The Monk of Fife, published in the late 1920s
    Works were later displayed in the collection of the University of Pittsburgh's Information Sciences Library
    At the age of 40, he married a woman close to twenty years his junior (1921).
    His trademark was to work religious imagery into the trees in his paintings.
    His career declined when advanced printing technology developed in the late '40s.
    He was compelled to return to Denmark in hopes of attaining patronage, but his work was no longer in demand there, either.
    Initially after his death, no American, British, or Danish museums were willing to accept his artwork for display.
    Most of his concept art for Disney went unused. Consequently he was let go within four years (1941).
    He collaborated with Disney's production staff in conceiving a workable adaptation for Hans Christian Andersen's 'Little Mermaid.' However, the onset of WWII resulted in the project being shelved, along with his extensive gallery of concept designs (the film would not be made in his lifetime).
    He died virtually penniless.
    His wife died only a year later, losing a long fight to diabetes.
    His father was a prominent Copenhagen stage director and his mother was distinguished stage actress/singer.
    Growing up the son of high-profile thespians, he had memories of meeting with Grieg, Bjornson, and Ibsen, as a child.
    His attention to every minute detail of his HAND-crafted water-color drawings is almost inconceivable in retrospect.
    He is the artist most responsible for the stunning 'Ave Maria' visuals seen in the finale of Disney's 'Fantasia' (he also heavily influenced the design of the 'Night on Bald Mountain' segment).
    His conceptual art was invaluable to the production team that eventually took on the 'Little Mermaid' project, some forty years later, particularly for the storm and shipwreck sequences.
    The concept art figured so prominently into Disney's final 1989 'Little Mermaid' film that the directors felt obliged to give him honorary billing in the film's end credits.
    His last works were for local schools and churches, including his illustration of the 23rd Psalm and 'the First Spring' mural.

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair


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