Blue Flower

What's the difference between The Sleeping Beauty and The Briar-Rose?


Let's look at The Sleeping Beauty in the Woods (Fairy Tales of Mother Goose) written by Charles Perrault, illustrated by Johann Georg van Caspel. The original titled De schoone slaapster in het bosch (Moeder de Gans) was published in Amsterdam, Netherlands in 1898 by H. Gerlings.

While this fairy tale is credited to Charles Perrault and it actually started like his version, with seven fairies instead of twelve, it switched to the Grimms' version right after the curse of the wicked fairy. All elements, characteristic for brothers Grim were used. Here are the most important ones:

  • When everybody fall asleep, the castle became surrounded by thorns and many people died just trying to get into it.
  • The prince awakens the sleeping beauty with a kiss.
  • The story ends right after the wedding.

If the publisher stayed faithful to Perrault's version, things would be quite different:

  • No thorns, no kiss.
  • After the wedding two kids were born, but prince's new family stayed secret to his mother who was a cannibal!
  • When queen mother eventually finds out about her daughter in law and both grand kids, she tries to eat everybody, what leads to dramatic confrontation with her son and grand finale with her death.

So, if we are ready, we can look at beautiful illustrations made by J. G. van Caspel (1870-1928) who decided to present the story in Art Nouveau style.

This is the cover:

The first scene shows six good fairies at the cradle. Everything looks fine.

But things start to complicate very fast when the wicked fairy enters. She casts a spell of death and only thanks to the last fairy the death of the innocent child was prevented. Instead of that she should sleep for a hundred years.

Despite the attempts of preventing the fulfillment in the princesses' sixteenth birthday she finds a spindle and right after touching it falls asleep.

It was good everybody else felt asleep too. Can you imagine her life if she wakes up one hundred years later only to find out everybody she knows is already dead?

After many knights and other adventurers Mr. Right finally came. It was one hundred years later and it was time to wake up.

 Johann Georg van Caspel was also known as Geo van Caspel, Geo J. Caspel, was born on 24 March in Amsterdam to David van Caspel and Carolina Johanna Tjabringdina Kramer. In 1889 he passed an entrance exam for the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Amsterdam and attended the workshop of Maurits van der Valk.

At first, he was trained as a figure and a portrait painter. After making a contact with Amand printing house he started to create posters and soon became one of the most productive poster makers in the country. He also became book-binder, designed calendars, and advertising brochures. In 1899 he moved to Brussels, where he continued his work as a designer, portraitist, and muralist.

In 1903 he moved again, this time in Laren where he received an order as an architect of a mansion. He was so successful he got more orders and eventually designed about thirty houses in the region in the next decade. He stopped designing posters, but still painted and illustrated. One of his most important book illustrations is definitely a series of the pictures already presented in this article about the Sleeping Beauty made in Art Nouveau.

Interesting note: he signed posters by .v. Caspel, paintings by Van Caspel and different pictures by VC in a circle. Can you spot his signatures on the images from The Sleeping Beauty in the Woods above?

Johann Georg van Caspel died on 4 July 1928 in Laren.