Pictures of Red Riding Hood as endless source of inspiration…
This famous fairy tale is at least one thousand years old but the girl’s hood is colored red only from 17th century, so don’t expect anything older. The presented pictures are all in public domain because artists are more than 70 years old (copyright law in EU and many other jurisdictions) and were made before 1923 (USA copyright). In some cases images are represented with photographs available on Wikimedia where faithful two dimensional reproduction of public domain art is in public domain by default. Please note this rule is not simply applicable in Europe, so I don’t recommend use in any commercial project (yes, blog with advertising is commercial project too) without consultation with a lawyer.
Enough said. Let’s take a look at some pictures!
Although Red Riding Hood is popular all over the world we have to start somewhere. Louvre in Paris, France and oil painting by Francois Fleury-Richard (1777-1852) is probably pretty good start. It is France after all, where the girl got her distinguished red cap. She had cap before, but color is Charles Perrault’s (1627-1703) idea. This is color of life, blood, passion, danger and sin. As we know all these is present in the fairy tale with many hidden meanings.
Louis Amy Blanc (1810-1885) with painting on the left and Albert Anker (1831-1910) with painting on the right portrayed the girl on the mission as pretty innocent creature. It is probably time to introduce big bad wolf!
Can you feel the difference between both paintings by Julius Sergius von Klever (1850-1924)? Nice walk through the wood and then – meeting with the beast…
In last series we can see how George Frederic Watts (1817-1904) and John Burr (1834-1893) saw little girl with red cap. Carl Larsson (1853-1919) found an interesting moment when wolf approaches to her. In this case his intentions are not clear yet. Everything is open, but we expect something will happen.
With illustrations of Red Riding Hood around the world
We are in France again…
Frederic Theodore Lix (1830-1897) illustrated Perrault’s collection of fairy tales where the girl wears red cap, not hood, and we can see she doesn’t have a cake and wine as in Grimms’ version. In French tale she has bread and butter.
The scenes above are work of probably most successful illustrator of all times. This is of course Gustave Dore (1832-1883) and the picture below is the most famous illustration of Little Red Cap (we are still in France) ever. Next one is his too.
This scene is not innocent at all. It is graphic presentation of Perrault’s warning incorporated in the story. His message is so often forgotten, I will repeat it: “Don’t trust strangers, especially older men talking to young girls!”
Knowing Perrault himself was an older man married to much younger woman (he was actually a widower when he wrote this fairy tale down, but he was still surrounded with many rich seniors with young trophy wives), this message is even stronger! Don’t forget, in Perrault’s Red Cap we don’t have a hunter. Wolf eats the girl and this is the end…
Let’s jump to Germany!
Carl Offterdinger (1829-1889) made two illustrations for Grimms’ collection with slightly different version of the tale. We have a happy ending with a hunter who opens wolf’s stomach, but I woul like to point to the firs scene, where Red Cap is spending precious time with picking the flowers while she should be on her way to the granny. Brothers Grimm changed the story for their audience. Perrault wrote it for adults, they ere aiming to kids. So they tried to incorporate some messages about responsibility and importance of authority of older people.
See, what I mean? There is no such scene in Perrault Red Cap! The illustration is work of Arpad Schmidhammer (1857-1921).
In this cover of collections of fairy tales made by Mathilde Wesendonck we can see how important was Red Cap to other authors, editors and collectors too. It is in the center. Cover is work of Caspar Scheuren (1810-1887).
The series of illustrations above is actually the same work in different reprints of Grimms’ Fairy Tales. The first is made by Paul Meyerheim, one of the most famous illustrators of this influential collection and in the second we can see only minor changes in print technique, but the third one is actually work of some unknown artist who used Meyerheim’s piece to create slightly different feelings. We can forget some minor details like mushrooms, but if we stay at main differences, we should note the change of positions of both characters and the pose of the wolf. Both changes have the same effect – less tension and a story is a bit less scary already.
Talking about the series…
Series of six illustrations is made by Hermann Vogel (1854-1921), another famous interpret of fairy tales by brothers Grimm. We can understand the whole story just looking at his illustrations, but he decided to leave out the nasty scenes with confrontations in the bedroom. Instead of that we can see two scenes from the end which is happy and idyllic.
What about Great Britain and USA?
We are already familiar with some illustrations by Kate Greenaway (1846-1901) and this portrait of Little Red Riding Hood is her typical ‘girl, too young to have proper clothes’ approach.
Next series is work of her contemporary Walter Crane (1845-1915), who liked to make a story from text and pictures (in most cases he did a design too). First two scenes are pretty idyllic, but then things start to complicate…
It is obvious Crane saw many human characteristics in the wolf too.
The scene with taking her clothes off is almost as insinuating as dore’s with both main characters in bed.
But we have a happy ending at Crane’s toy book! Although he earned good money with picture books, today his illustrations of the Grimms’ Fairy Tales are considered as his best work.
From the illustration above it is hard to say, but Harry Clarke (1889-1931) wasn’t illustrating Grimms’ version, this one comes from Perrault’s collection which is much more suggestive than today more known version by brothers Grimm. Well, talking about suggestive scenes, we can check next series, made by Thomas Bewick (1753-1828), one of finest illustrators of his times. His version is made after Perrault’s too and by today’s standards it is far from being acceptable for kids. Check for yourself:
The last scene is really screaming for censorship, right? Let’s look at another black and white work which is probably available in color somewhere, but unfortunately not within my powers … This is an oil painting by John Thomas Peele (1822 – 1897):
Original is in private collection, so don’t expect to see it soon.
Illustrations above are signed by Richard Andre (1834-1907) with real name William Roger Snow who used at least one more pseudonym (Clifford Merton).
You probably recognized Arthur Rackham’s style, especially one of his signatures: trees with twisted branches. His illustration of Red Riding Hood is one of rare opportunities to see how is this artist using red color. You can check how Rackham used mostly green and greyish colors to illustrate Wagner’s The Ring of Nibelung (four operas with A LOT of mythology).
We will finish our tour through classic illustrations of Little Red Riding Hood with another famous illustrator. Jessie Wilcox Smith (1863-1935) decided to portray the meeting of the girl with the beast with very obvious contrasts. Not only she looks very innocent and naive, and the wolf looks wicked and greedy, we can notice a play of light and shadows in the illustration, the eternal fight between good and evil, so common in classic fairy tales.
Jessie Willcox Smith is one of finest illustrators ever and this blog actually started with one of her masterpieces – illustrations of Water Babies by Charles Kingsley. This post ends with her work, but it is very possible we’ll meet again.
Bonus: If you want to read more about this very special fairy tale, here are ten amazing facts about Red Riding Hood!
I hope you enjoyed pictures from the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale. Have a great time!