Isn’t it strange how some childhood moments stay with you so clearly, while most things fade into a half remembered muddle? It was just before Christmas, many years ago when I was just a little girl. My family were getting into the car to go home after a visit to the bookshop in Cape Town. My father was holding a brown paper packet. I tried to peep into it and caught a glimpse of two books, but my father whisked them away before I could get a proper look.
That packet re-appeared again under the Christmas tree, and contained Errol Le Cain’s Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella.
I’ve already written about his illustrations for Cinderella, which you can see at this link. I wish I could include all the drawings in this book, but I’ve chosen the ones that I remember best. Above is the frontispiece, showing Beauty’s first sight of a spinning wheel. Just look at that sumptuous dress, and the little mouse sitting there, watching her.
Does it look familiar? Maybe you remember Botticelli’s Prima Vera:
Here is a closer look at the Errol Le Cain version. It reminds me of a tapestry, especially those flowers in the grass:
This one shows the arrival of the evil fairy at the christening. She is furious at being left out. You cant see it so clearly in this picture, but she is surrounded by autumn leaves, a nice contrast to the springtime of the “prima vera” fairies.
Beauty’s parents attempt to avoid fate by having all the spinning wheels in their country destroyed. Notice the evil fairy overlooking this, sitting up there on her little dragon, while the good fairy sadly looks on the destruction.
This is one of my favorite scenes. Beauty grows up, and the eve of her 15th birthday she wanders about in unfamiliar parts of her home. Can you see the little devil-fairy-imps that surround her?
She finds a strange little room, with a strange little old lady, sitting at the spinning wheel. In the image its a bit small, but the shadows on the floor are particularly lovely.
Once she falls asleep, the entire castle is stricken with the magical sleep. Here you can see the prince finding the castle after it has been asleep for a hundred years.
Even the wild animals are sleeping:
He finds these strange scenes in the castle itself. These images remind me of the paintings of Gustav Klimt:
And here, at last, he finds the Sleeping Beauty. Notice her hair has been spun into the spiderwebs, and the stained glass shadows on her blankets.
Errol Le Cain illustrated many books, but these two, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, remain my favorites.
If you liked his drawings, you will probaly also like these:
- The circle of death and life illustrated by Spirin
- Errol Le Cain’s Cinderella: A World of Beauty in the Detail
- The haunting illustrations of Eva Bednarova: Chinese Fairly Tales.