1. Nika Goltz (1925 – 2012)

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    Nika Goltz has been called, “one of the most talented and productive Russian children’s book illustrators.” In a career lasting over five decades, Goltz illustrated more than 100 children’s books.

    Goltz was born 1925 in Moscow. She grew up in her grandmother’s single-storey wooden house. Goltz’s mother imparted her with a love for classical literature. Her father, George P. Goltz, was a very successful architect. He was also an excellent set designer and graphic artist. He often worked from home. Architectural designs were sprawled across the dining room. Nika, inspired by and interesting in her father’s work, would often draw by his side.

    In 1943 Goltz graduated from the Moscow State Academy Art Lyceum and in 1950 graduated from V. Surikov Moscow State Academy Art Institute. The first book she illustrated was the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, “The Steadfast Tin Soldier,” published in 1956.

    Goltz would go on to illustrate The Little Prince, the fairy tales of Oscar Wilde, numerous Hans Christian Andersen’s tales, and many others. Her fairy tales worlds were realistic, bright, and full of wonder. However, she did not subscribe to the concept of “children’s book.” Noting many, such as Don Quixote and Gulliver’s Travels, for their deep philosophical content. For this reason, she did not illustrate for children nor for grown-ups. By and large, she illustrated for herself. But she did acknowledge the responsibility of children authors and illustrators, appreciating the lasting impression a book can have. Consequently, Goltz created artwork enjoyed by both children and grown-ups.

    From 1998 Goltz’s devoted most of her creative output to the work of her favourite author, Hans Christian Andersen. She was awarded the Silver Medal of the Academy of Arts, and in 2006 won a International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) award for the book Bolshaja kniga lutshih skazok (The big book of the best fairy tales). She was also awarded the Honored Artist of Russia, Russia’s highest title for artistic achievement.

    You can find a lot of Nika Goltz’s work online, a good place to start is here and here. Though she produced many books in her lifetime, I have been unable to find somewhere selling them online. If you know of any, please leave a comment or tweet.