Oskar Yulievich Klever (1887 - 1975) belonged
to an old artistic family, actually of Baltic origin,
but since Catherine II's days, the family had been
active in St. Petersburg (Leningrad).
Oskar Klever's father, Julij Juljevitch Klever,
once was a much acknowledged landscape painter
who was appointed professor at the Academy of
Fine Arts and ennobled by the Czar. One of
Oskar Klever's uncles, a sister, and a brother
were also active painters. Today, the works of the
various family members are shown in Russian museums.
The artistic education and evolving painting
activity of Oskar Klever took place before the
Russian Revolution in 1917. Klever started as
a landscape painter, but in time the scene-painting
became his favorite form of expression -
not least after the revolution which did in many
ways change the premises of his artistic work.
He painted decorations and drew costumes for several
theatres in Leningrad and environs, he worked as
a producer, indeed even as an actor.
Also the puppet theatre and amateur
theatres profited from his energy.
Ever since his youth, Oskar Klever had been
absorbed by Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales
and stories. In fact, it was an Andersen picture
that effected his entrance to the St. Petersburg Academy
of Fine Arts. In the course of time, he created a
collection of some 50 paintings, all in watercolour.
During the World War II, when Germans put him into
prisoner's camp, one can only wonder how he managed
to procure paper, colours and brushes.
He indeed knew Andersen's texts by heart,
and along with the painting he was telling fairy tales
to the children in the camp.
Oskar Klever's paintings which have been created
within a great span of years - 1915-64 – are
illustrations of 28 of Andersen's fairy tales and stories.
It is significant that the artist has disregarded several
of the most famous and most often translated and
illustrated fairy tales, whereas several of the less
known works from Andersen's late years,
the 1850'ies and the 1860'ies, has especially
claimed his attention and inspired him in his painting.
Klever transferred his works to
The Hans Christian Andersen Museum in 1968.
The 46 illustrations were published for the very
first time in bookform in H.C. Andersen.
Eventyr. Illustrationer af Oskar Klever
('Hans Christian Andersen. Fairy Tales. Illustrations
by Oskar Klever'), with a foreword by Johan de Mylius,
Gyldendal, Copenhagen 1991.