Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Barbe-Bleue illustrated by Maurizio Quarello

Barbe-Bleue illustrated by Maurizio Quarello is not available in English, but in French. I would be rather shocked to see an English language picture book of Bluebeard these days, to be perfectly honest. But this is so beautiful and just so very European, too. I keep debating featuring foreign editions of fairy tales but the images are so hard to acquire.

I had seen this cover before on Amazon.fr but not any of the interior images until the book was featured last week on a favorite blog, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast: Cristiana Clerici’s International Spotlight #4: Maurizio Quarello’s take on Bluebeard. Here's an excerpt, but click through to read it all as well as see the images discussed which I am not sharing here:
Quarello uses cinematographic techniques with enviable skill. He masters them with ease, as if his job were film director and not illustrator. From shot and reverse shot, to zoom, to image pause, it seems his illustrations are not meant to stop with the page’s boundaries, as if they wanted to drag us into the whirlpool of events. And this is exactly what happens.

His paintings strongly recall Hopper and the Romantics’ atmospheres: from the colour palette he chooses, to the polished density of his brush strokes, to his way of playing with lights and shades, to the portrayed subjects. The unexpected framings, always astounding, characterize his images.
Okay, I have to share one more image, because I love it. It is deliciously cinematical and gives me a new vision of Bluebeard. All of the images make me think of an old B&W movie, I can see the illustrations in B&W with only the blue beard adding color, too, as the action moves. I wouldn't change a thing, mind you, but I found my brain grayscaling the images.

You can visit Quarello's website where there are other images from Barbe-Bleue not featured on the other blog.


  1. Wow! Makes me really wish I could read French. It looks marvelous. One of my favorite picture book fairy tale adaptations was an Italian variant - Count Silvernose - a truly remarkable book on so many levels.

  2. What illustrations! I'm glad you posted this, definitely looking it up...

  3. I wish I had the money to import this breathtaking piece of art and literature!