Lines and Colors art blog

John Bauer (update)

John Bauer was a Swedish illustrator and painter, active around the turn of the 20th century, who I first wrote about back in 2006.

Since then, I’m happy to report, resources for images of his charming, wonderfully realized illustrations have become more widely available.

Though not as well known outside of Sweden as some of his Golden Age English, French and American contemporaries, Bauer was an influential and much beloved illustrator, known primarily for his fantasy illustrations for the popular Swedish fairy tale annual, Bland Tomtar och Troll (Among Elves and Trolls).

Bauer combined a delightful, personal drawing style with renderings in muted, textural watercolor. Though his trademark trolls — which influenced both contemporary and generations of subsequent illustrators — were portrayed with a dose of humor, his forest landscapes were dark and open to suggestion, leaving much to the imagination of the reader as to who or what might lurk in the receding darkness.

I particularly love his stylized tree forms, the way he used reflections in dark water, and the magical glowing light effect he achieved for his princesses by using contrast against his dark backgrounds.

Bauer was particularly influential on his successor at Bland Tomtar och Troll, Gustaf Tenggren, who is actually better known here in the U.S.

Among the resources I’ve found, the highest quality images on Bauer’s work are on Animation Resources and The Golden Age Site; the most numerous are on Artsy Craftsy and Art Passions. I’ve listed other image resources below.

The Jönköpings Läns Museum near his home ha a large collection of his work, though only a few images online.

There is a translated collection of Swedish Folk Tales from Bland Tomtar och Troll that features Bauer’s illustrations.

[Addendum: Evan Parker has provided a link to an excellent website with reproductions of John Bauer’s work:]


4 responses to “John Bauer (update)”

  1. michael dooney Avatar
    michael dooney

    nice to see these, I don’t know about the rest of the world, but Brian Froud lost a LOT of points on originality in my book once I discovered this guy!

    1. I think Bauer has been much better known and influential among illustrators than the general public for long time (at least outside of the Scandinavian countries).

  2. Really good resource for Bauer’s work:

    1. Thanks, Evan! I’ve added the link to the post.