Illustrations Art Gallery

Virginia Frances Sterrett – Illustrations for Arabian Nights 1928

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Virginia Frances Sterrett (1900–1931) was an American artist and illustrator.

Sterrett received her first commission at the age of 19 from the Penn Publishing Company to illustrate Old French Fairy Tales (1920), a collection of works from the 19th-century French author, Comtesse de Ségur (Sophie Fedorovna Rostopchine).

A year after the publication of Old French Fairy Tales, a new title including commissioned works from Sterrett was presented by the Penn Publishing Company—Tanglewood Tales (1921). From 1923, in failing health, Sterrett was able to work on projects for short periods of time only and as a result, she was able to complete just one further commission prior to her death—her own interpretation of Arabian Nights (1928).

One Thousand and One Nights is a collection of Middle Eastern folk tales compiled in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age. It is often known in English as the Arabian Nights, from the first English-language edition (c. 1706–1721), which rendered the title as The Arabian Nights’ Entertainment.

The work was collected over many centuries by various authors, translators, and scholars across West, Central and South Asia, and North Africa. Some tales themselves trace their roots back to ancient and medieval Arabic, Persian, Indian, Greek, Jewish and Turkish folklore and literature.

What is common throughout all the editions of the Nights is the initial frame story of the ruler Shahryār and his wife Scheherazade and the framing device incorporated throughout the tales themselves. The stories proceed from this original tale; some are framed within other tales, while others are self-contained. Some editions contain only a few hundred nights, while others include 1,001 or more.

Some of the stories commonly associated with The Nights, in particular “Aladdin’s Wonderful Lamp”, “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves”, and “The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor”, were not part of The Nights in its original Arabic versions but were added to the collection by Antoine Galland and other European translators.

Presenting the  Stories from Arabian Nights, illustrated by Virginia Frances Sterrett. Frist edition, published by Penn, Philadelphia, 1928. This is sadly her last illustrated book and what a wonderful last words it is. Enjoy these amazing illustrations.

Art Gallery: Virginia Frances Sterrett – The Arabian Nights 1928

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