Erik Blegvad, children’s book artist who illustrated ‘Bed-Knob and Broomstick,’ dies

February 13, 2014

Erik Blegvad, a children’s book artist known for his whimsical illustrations of more than 100 books, died Jan. 14 in London. He was 90.

His eldest son, musician and cartoonist Peter Blegvad, confirmed the death. The cause was not disclosed.

The wide-ranging artist was a native of Denmark who studied at the Copenhagen School of Arts and Crafts before developing his reputation in the New York and Paris publishing worlds.

He worked as a commercial illustrator and developed a sophisticated pen-and-ink style that seemed perfectly suited for children’s books.

Among his best known works are the illustrations for “Bed-Knob and Broomstick,” “The Tenth Good Thing About Barney” and his own translation of Hans Christian Andersen’s “Stories and Fairy Tales.”

Mr. Blegvad died Jan. 14 at 90. (AP)

He also collaborated with his wife, Lenore Blegvad, who wrote numerous children’s books that he illustrated until her death in 2008; and with a lifelong friend, fellow Dane N.M. Bodecker. Mr. Blegvad published a memoir, “Self Portrait,” in 1979.

Critics were often entranced by his work and seemed to run out of adjectives praising his drawings, often falling back on “witty” and “charming.” A 1996 review in The Washington Post called him a “modern master” for his illustration of Andersen’s famous tales.

While he was an art student during the Nazi occupation of Denmark, Mr. Blegvad and a friend were arrested with a suitcase full of leaflets printed by the Danish resistance. He was imprisoned by the Gestapo for “several frightening days” but released unharmed, his son Peter said.

He later split his time between London and the United States, contributing to many American magazines and spending much of his time in South Wardsboro, Vt.

Survivors include two sons and four grandchildren.