What you are looking at right now is a lovely illustration from the Peabody Library’s copy of Marienkind, a short story by the Brothers Grimm featuring Art Nouveau illustrations by Marie Heinrich Lefler and Joseph Urban. We are really excited to show this off because it received top notch care from The Sheridan Libraries’ Conservation unit! In addition to stabilizing the acidic pages, the conservators also encapsulated each page in mylar to allow continued access to this beautiful and highly disturbing book.
It’s disturbing, and how! The story features a young impoverished girl who is visited by the Virgin Mary. Mary gives her 13 keys that open doors revealing rooms full of the beautiful mysteries of heaven, but the girl is instructed only to open the first 12 doors. She is guided by angels who attempt to get her to obey Mary’s instructions, but as we all know, girls just wanna have fun, and the next thing you know, she opens the forbidden door, goes into a coma, awakens years later in a thorny cage, walks around nude for awhile, marries a king, has a bunch of children who are then promptly abducted by Mary because the girl refuses to admit she opened the forbidden 13th door, is then accused of being a cannibal, and only admits to her childhood mischief when faced with death.
Spoiler alert: She doesn’t die! The children are returned to her! The Germans rejoice because their queen isn’t a cannibal! Huzzah!