The Frog King aka The Frog Prince Images from the fairy tale
The fairy tale The Frog King, subtitled The Iron Henry is one of the most well-known stories from the famous book by Brothers Grimm. It is not a surprise to see how many artists were inspired by the confrontation of a spoiled princess and sometimes pretty aggressive prince in the form of the frog.
Let’s see a few scenes for a start!
Fairy tales were one of the favorite themes of Edward Frederick Brewtnall (1846-1902), what can be seen at his painting of The Sleeping Beauty as well. The painting above is titled The Princess and the Frog Prince.
Franz von Stuck (1863-1928) was a German painter who decided to portray the same scene in oil in 1891. He titled it Es war einmal (Once upon a time). He signed it with Franz Stuck, because he was not benighted at the time of making of this work.
Quite different dynamic is chosen by Koloman Moser (1868-1918), Austrian painter with huge influence on graphic art of the 20th century. The princess is sitting, waiting for the frog who is bringing her the lost golden ball. The ball is glowing like a symbol of power waiting to return in the right hands. But the frog is already painted with a crown, so his power is also obvious.
Wladyslaw Skoczylas (1883-1934) transferred even more power from the princess to the frog. While she is standing, her position is actually a bit inferior to the one on the painting by Koloman Moser. Painter achieved that by bending her back and shoulders. This watercolor painting was made in 1908 and it can be seen in Museum Sztuki in Lodz.
It’s hard to say which media it’s in question when we look at the next picture.
Arthur von Ramberg (1819-1875) made an original (painting, tapestry?) and we found a reproduction in the book from 1899. The major picture with the princess and the frog in bedroom is surrounded with for smaller ones (the princess with the prince, with the king, by the well and the last which is unfortunately unclear, but can be the scene of the departure – the prince and the princess leaving her home).
Next two painting both belong to the same artist:
Marianne Preindlsberger Stokes (1855 – 1927) in both cases decided to put the princess in inferior position. The frog prince in the first cases looks down to her and he is behind her, in controlling position, in the second painting.
We can also notice the influence of Pre-Raphaelites on the artist who used oil through her career less and less, preferring gesso and tempera which sometimes looked like frescoes.
Frog King was especially popular theme among German artists. We have already seen one of their popular scenes – both main characters at the pond. Two common scenes were at the table and in bed. We’ll see all of them in the rest of the article.
Bernhard Hasler (1884-1945) choose a dynamic scene with a princess playing with te golden ball. It’s not clear if she is playing before the ball is lost or after it’s returned, but it would be more logic after return. This is the moment when the main problem of the story is exposed. She got her toy back but doesn’t want to keep her promise.
This is where the story plot gets to conclusion (but it’s not the final scene of the fairy tale yet – don’t forget the Iron Henry!). We can see the remains of the frog on the floor and a handsome prince who is saved from the spell. Marriage will follow soon. Bernhard Hasler draw both pictures above in 1921.
Curt Liebich (1868-1937) draw the scene at the pond in a very calm feeling. Both characters look pretty equal despite the difference in heights. Liebich payed a lot of attention to the details in their surrounding as well. It’s logical if we consider the fact he was known as the painter of the Black Forest.
Hans Baluschek (1870-1935) choose the same scene as most other illustrators but he decided to add another detail – a castle in the background. This brings not only a decorative but also a symbolic value to the picture from Frog King as well.
Philipp Grot Johann (1841-1892) also used the castle for the background. He illustrated complete collection of Grimm Fairy Tales and this is his most well-known, almost a signature work. He made two pictures for The Frog King (which, by the way, is officially the first tale in the collection). The second scene is at the table.
It’s interesting to note how Philipp Grot Johann played with proportions of the characters. In the first picture the frog is very large, partly thanks to the perspective but also to emphasize his power. In the next picture the power is all on the king. We can see how princess doesn’t even try to hide a disgust.
Next illustrator had different approach. He made seven illustrations for The Frog King (including a head- and a tailpiece), where the whole story is presented:
Bernhard Wenig (1871-1936) was a painter, illustrator and designer. He was intensively working in the field of decorative arts and precious metals but is today most remembered by his designs of bookmarks (ex-libris) which became passion of many collector, especiall ones who are fond of Art Nouveau, the style seen in last seven illustrations from 1900. We can add he was a pupil of Franz von Stuck, who’s painting on the same subject is already presented in the beginning of the article.
Before we continue with Anglo-Saxon painters and illustrators (for some time the same fairy tale was titled The Frog Prince), we can conclude there is a lot of interesting elements in this similarly simple fairy tale.
If you are interesting to further explore The Frog King, or The Iron Henry, you can visit:
Charles Robinson (1870-1937) made an illustration in 1911 for The Big Book of Fairy Tales, published by Blackie & Sons, London. He accompanied this full color picture with five black and white line drawings. Here they are:
This book is considered as on of the heights in the career of Charles Robinson.
Next illustration comes from the gift book for boys and girls, as they subtitled it at H. Henry and Co. Ltd., London, where they published it in 1897. The title was The Parade and it was a collection of several dozens of short stories with The Little Princess and the Golden Ball being one of them.
This illustration is the only one printed in two colors (other are black and white) and the only one signed by Mrs Percy Dearmer (1872 – 1915). The illustrator’s full name was Jessie Mabel Pritchard Dearmer (nee White) and she became successful in other creative fields as well (author, dramatist).
Elmer Boyd Smith (1860-1943) was American illustrator who made the first meeting of the princess and the frog pretty relaxed. You really can’t feel the tension in this scene from The Frog Prince, published in The Fairy Book (The best popular fairy stories selected and rendered anew), by Thomas Y. Crowell & Co. Publishers, New York around 1898.
This vintage postcard with the revealing scene from Frog King is made by Oskar Herrfurth (1862-1934). It is numbered by number 5 but at the moment I don’t know if it belongs to a series of postcards illustrating this particular fairy tale or the Grimms fairy tales in general.