giselle illustrations by maraja

i found “the Royal Book of Ballet” in a used book store. published in 1962, the illustrations are by Libico Maraja. he worked and was well known in post war europe. here is his website, which you’ll need babelfish for unless you read italian.

a sampling of paintings from “Giselle…” his page layouts are bold and innovative. figures are constantly breaking free from the backgrounds. i love the typical late 50s/early 60s beauty of the women in his paintings. their lovely “la dolce vita” style is one of my favorites. any one of them could have sprung from a fellini or rossellini film, although “Giselle’s” supernatural plot is more suited to “suspiria” great, dario argento. 

Giselle, falls in love with Duke Albrecht who has disguised himself as a peasant. his secret is betrayed by Hilarion who also loves Giselle. Knowing she can never wed her noble lover, Giselle commits suicide.

The region is haunted by the wilis, vengeful ghostly women who destroy any man unfortunate enough to cross their paths at midnight. sure enough, the queen of the ghostly wilis claims Giselle’s soul and they drown the mournful Hilarion.
When the grieving Albrecht visits Giselle’s grave the wilis appear and attempt to kill him. Giselle tries save him but is under the queen’s power. Only the 4 o’clock morning bell, heralding dawn, saves Albrecht. The wilis return to their graves, except for Giselle. Her love for Albrecht has released her from their control and she is able to rest in peace.

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