The Arabian Nights: Golden Age of Illustration

Duringthe Islamic Golden Age folk tales were compiled for One Thousandand One Nights. Dating from the tenth to fourteenth century the stories are like a beautiful box that opens to reveal more nested boxes; much as the Persian Queen Scheherazade weaves intricate tales within tales each night to keep her husband Shahryār from executing her in the morning. Drawing on the cultures of Arabia, Persia, Egypt, and India the Occidental world soon became entranced by the stories. Translated into French during the early eighteenth century, English editions followed in the nineteenth century. The stories were a popular subject during the Golden Age of Illustration of the early twentieth century. American artist Maxfield Parrish (1870 -1966) illustrated The Arabian Nights in 1909 with his characteristic neo-classic style andsaturated colors. The French illustrator Edmund Dulac (1882 -1953) created fanciful images against impressionistic backgrounds in Stories from The Arabian Nights (1907). American Virginia Frances Sterrett (1900-1931) had a brief but brilliant career. Diagnosed with tuberculosis at nineteen, her short life was spent in the West and Mid-West. Sterrett left us with exquisite images of the exotic Scheherazade and the world she spun out of words.