Our Notes & References
Mitrokhin’s skills and versatility in full display in this title from Knebel’s praised Gift Series, an oriental fairy-tale, written originally by the German Hauff in 1825.
“The famed publisher Iosif Knebel took an aesthetic approach to literature. A Jew from Austro-Hungarian Empire, Knebel (1854 – 1926) had come to Moscow in the 1870s. As a publisher he specialized in illustrated textbooks and children’s books of high artistic and colour printing quality.
Knebel’s Gift Series (Podarochnaya Seria, 1906 – 1918) was groundbreaking. The series came to include around fifty large-format books of twelve pages each. […] The emphasis in the volumes was on the artist, not the writer. According to Knebel “The child will quickly forget the content. But the colours, the bright spectrum and the drawing will stamp themselves on his soul for a long time and leave a trace, perhaps forever”. (Hellman, Ben. Fairy Tales and True Stories: The History of Russian Literature for Children, p. 172).
A pupil of Vasnetsov, Mitrokhin (1883 – 1973) achieved great fame as artist and book illustrator. His drawings were frequently published in the journals Scales, Spectator, Satirikon and Apollo. Knebel invited the artist to work for his publishing house and between 1911 and 1914 Mitrokhin illustrated twelve books for the publisher, including nine for the Gift Series.
The contemporaries praised the series illustrated by Mitrokhin. The Russian publisher, literary critic and a member of the “Mir Iskusstva” (The World of Art) Dmitrii Filosofov said: “Anyone, who has a smallest idea about illustration techniques and colour printing will understand how much love and efforts were put into these colourful books. Who knew Mitrokhin a few years ago? I think no one… up until recently, when this talented and important artist confidently entered our artistic world; an artist that works hard and with every year achieves a new level of perfection”. (Filosofof, D.V., Krasiviye knizhki // January 19, 1915).