Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Coleridge
Rime of the Ancient Mariner
by Samuel Coleridge

Willy Pogany was a prolific Hungarian illustrator best-known for his pen and ink drawings and contributions to myths and fables. He belonged to booming era of illustrators which produced the likes of Edmund Dulac, Maurice and Edward Detmold and N.C. Wyeth, and followed closely on the heels of big-name pioneers like Arthur Rackham.

Born in 1882 in Szged, Hungary, Pogany had a brief flirtation with technical school, but knew he wanted to be an artist. He spent his early twenties briefly attending art school, and traveling to Munich, Paris and London before making his way to the United States in 1914. By the time he arrived in America, Pogany was already developing a name for himself in the illustration community, having contributed works to such classics as Coleridge’s epic poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and A Treasury of Verse for Children. During the last half of that decade, his illustrations graced the covers of many magazines, including Harper’s Weekly, Ladies Home Journal, and Metropolitan Magazine.

Much of Pogany’s work could be described as Art Nouveau – a style whose popularity was waning during Pogany’s most prominent years. His art felt heavily fairy-tale oriented, and often featured motifs of mythical animals, nymphs, pixies and more, as well as great attention to botanical detail. While he often worked in softness – dreamy, warm pastel scenes or lush, elegant watercolor and oil paintings – he also did many pieces in pen and ink.

It is these pen and ink pieces that many feel hold the most obvious extent of his talent. Painstakingly detailed and confident, the addition of Pogany’s work was a highly prized feather in the cap of many authors, and Pogany provided contributions to multiple volumes of work by the same authors, such as Richard Wagner, Colum Padraic, and Edith L. Elias. His versatility and skill attracted folks beyond the book world, too, and Pogany’s work could be found on many motion picture sets and in murals as well. Two notable New York examples included a detailed historical mural in Wannamaker’s Department Store and one at the Eldorado Hotel. He also wrote three instructional art books: Willy Pogany's Drawing Lessons, Willy Pogany's Oil Painting Lessons, and Willy Pogany's Water Color Lessons, Including Gouache.

Pogany died in 1955, in Manhattan.

Books Illustrated (and sometimes written) by Willy Pogany

Tannhauser by Richard Wagner
Tannhauser
by Richard Wagner
Faust by Goethe
Faust
by Goethe
Mother Goose by Willy Pogany
Mother Goose
by Willy Pogany
Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam translated by Edward Fitzgerald
Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
translated by Edward Fitzgerald
The Gingerbread Man by Leonard Fable
The Gingerbread Man
by Leonard Fable
Atta Troll by Heinrich Heine
Atta Troll
by Heinrich Heine
The Children at the Pole by Willy Pogany
The Children at the Pole
by Willy Pogany
The Song Celestial or Bhagavad-Gita translated by Sir Edwin Arnold
The Song Celestial or Bhagavad-Gita
translated by Sir Edwin Arnold
Cinderella Retold by Edith L. Elias
Cinderella
Retold by Edith L. Elias
Peterkin by Elaine and Willy Pogany
Peterkin
by Elaine and Willy Pogany
Robinson Crusoe retold by Edith L. Elias
Robinson Crusoe
retold by Edith L. Elias
Hiawatha retold by Edith L. Elias
Hiawatha
retold by Edith L. Elias
Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
Gulliver's Travels
by Jonathan Swift
The Blue Lagoon: A Romance by H. De Vere Stacpoole
The Blue Lagoon: A Romance
by H. De Vere Stacpoole

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