I am genuinely upset that I am just now learning who Dahlov Ipcar was. Here is a woman illustrator who lived right in my backyard and whose art has the beautiful colors of Mary Blair, the stunning patterns of M. C. Escher, and the whimsical creatures of both. She passed away recently at just shy of 100 years old and I'm just now learning about her. So it goes.
But never mind that now. I know about her now, and my life is the better for it. And in my research, it turns out that Ipcar wrote and illustrated a dinosaur book. The Wonderful Egg was originally published in 1958 by Doubleday and Company Inc. This reproduction was published in 2014 by Flying Eye Books, and it is as close to the original edition as possible.
I have to say, this is as good a reason as any to write a book about anything.
So this is very definitely a book about dinosaurs for children in the late 1950's. The palette is brown and green because Real is Brown and, between dinosaurs and all those cartoon turtles and alligators, there is something in the human brain that just wants big reptilian things to be green. The appearance of the various animals is dubious, but I'm willing to let it slide because I just love this art! Click for big.
The book sets out to find the identity of a mysterious egg - eggs being the one given commonality between every animals that lived in dinosaur times. I know, but we're going to ignore it for now. Look at this jolly Triceratops! He's pretty remarkable for the time, walking fully upright with tail and head held high. I want to ride on him.
This Stegosaurus is a little dated but I love him so much! That smug smile!
These Pteronodons really are awesome for their time. The one in the back is a little "Flew right off the set of 'Fantasia'"-ish, but the fellow in the foreground has a proper beak and everything.
I'd have sworn the Ornithomimids in the background came from a book written decades later. The one in the front is a little flopsy in the tail area, but I like that he's about to munch on some tasty artichokes.
I really have nothing to add to this dude except that of all the 50's Tyrannosauruses I've ever seen, I think this guy is my favorite. He is at least in the top percentile.
We get a montage of hadrosaurs including this deeply-odd-to-modern-eyes Parasaurolophus. I do like those pink paws though.
Now I know Mosasaurs in reality looked more like a lizard trying it's damndest to be a whale, but look at this guy! This is the best old-school toothy sea-dragon Mosasaurus I've ever seen.
And in staggering contrast, the wonderful egg finally hatches and we have ourselves an Archaeopteryx illustrated as a proper bird in 1958. That's amazing! Heck, there are recent depictions of the poor critter that cannot shake the "lizard with feathers" cliche. This is beautiful!
Art of the Day!
I've been so taken with Ipcar's work I just had to do a Master Study.