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Print - Elder Mother Tree
  • Elder Mother Tree
    Rackham, Arthur, born 1867 - died 1939
  • Enlarge image

Elder Mother Tree

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1932 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Rackham, Arthur, born 1867 - died 1939 (made by)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pen and ink and watercolour on paper laid on to card

  • Credit Line:

    Brigadier W. E. Clark

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    On short term loan out for exhibition

Arthur Rackham trained at the Lambeth School of Art. He gained experience from a young age as an illustrator by working for the 'Westminster Budget' and other magazines. He worked mainly as an illustrator to Children's books. From the early twentieth century Rackham developed a talent for portraying witches and fairies by employing vivid characterization, which often has an underlying sense of horror. These illustration effectively incorporate fine outlines with a pale palette to create the feeling of another world.

Magical transformation is a common subject in fairy tales. The delicately tinted watercolour illustration to the fairytale 'The Elder Mother Tree' (1845) by Hans Christian Anderson (1805-75) depicts the moment when the Elder Mother appears in an elderflower tree which sprouts from a teapot.Elder trees have long been associated with fairy mythology, and were thought to protect against evil spirits.

Physical description

Pen and ink and watercolour illustration to "The Elder Mother Tree". The watercolour in fine washes of greens with red, pink and black, shows the Elder Mother as an elderly woman at the moment that she appears in an elder tree, growing out of a teapot.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1932 (made)


Rackham, Arthur, born 1867 - died 1939 (made by)

Materials and Techniques

Pen and ink and watercolour on paper laid on to card

Marks and inscriptions

"Arthur Rackham"
inscribed in green in the bottom left corner.

"5 x 9"
"13 / 1957"
These numbers are inscribed in pencil outisde the drawn frame around the watercolour in the bottom right corner.


Height: 38.3 cm, Width: 28.6 cm

Object history note

Bequeathed by Brigadier W. E. Clark in 1969.

Historical context note

The works of the Danish author of children's stories Hans Christian Anderson (1805-75) were already popular in England by the time of his first visit in 1847, and remain much read.

Descriptive line

Illustration for "Elder Mother Tree" from Hans Andersen's Fairy Tales, Arthur Rackham, pen and ink and watercolour, 1932.


Pen and ink and watercolour


Drawing; Illustration


Watercolours; Illustration; Fairy Tales and Legends


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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