|The Elder Mother Tree, 1932|
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Artist Arthur Rackham, at an early age, trained at the Lambeth School of Art where he gained favorable attention as an illustrator by working for the “Westminster Budget” and other magazines.
Later, Rackham lent his talents mainly to children's book illustration. From the early twentieth century, he developed a talent for portraying witches and fairies. His characterizations were so vivid, in fact, many parents feared the images would be too terrifying for their tots.
Here, we see a delicately tinted watercolor illustration for the fairytale “The Elder Mother Tree” (1845) by Hans Christian Anderson (1805-75). The image depicts the moment when the Elder Mother appears in an elderflower tree which sprouts from a teapot, as one does. Elder trees have long been associated with fairy mythology, and were thought to protect against evil spirits.