Paintings and Illustrations of the Frogs
Frogs are popular subjects in art and painters love them for many reasons. For this reason, we explored the world of oils and watercolors and arrange frog paintings in two basic groups. First is dealing with a frog as an element of the still life composition. Sometimes it’s in an arranged still life, sometimes in a natural environment.
Frog by Abbott Handerson Thayer (1849-1921), watercolor on paper (made between 1910-1915), Smithsonian American Art Museum
Fishing for Frogs by Leon Augustin Lhermitte (1844-1925), pastel on canvas, private collection
The second part is about stories with frogs in important roles. The fairy tale The Frog King first comes to most minds. There is also a frog as a messenger with good news for the queen in The Sleeping Beauty and we can all probably remember at least a few fables with frogs. In this part, the word painting is not good enough anymore. We are dealing with drawings, woodcuts, gravures, and other media as well, especially if the picture with a frog belongs to one of the numerous book illustrations presented here.
Young Biologist by Paul Peel (1860-1892), oil on canvas, 1891, Art Gallery of Ontario
But fairy tales and fables are not the only ones with frogs in an important role – we should mention at least an episode with Leto and Lykans from Greek mythology and the second plague of Egypt from the Bible.
Latona and the Frogs by David Teniers II (1610-1690), made between 1640 and 1650, oil on copper, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
So let’s enjoy the paintings and illustrations of the frogs together!
Still Life with Frogs
Believe it or not, still life paintings are not about fruits and flowers only. Artists tried to combine many seemingly unusual elements to achieve desired compositions and frogs were very popular for centuries. We can find them dead and alive, on the tables and on the forest floor, what can be seen below.
Still life with fruit (with scorpion and frog) by Hermenegildo Bustos (1832-1907), oil on canvas, Museo Nacional de Arte, Mexico City
Still Life with Frog by Carl Moll (1861-1945), oil on panel, 1883, private collection
Leto and the Frogs
Leto is one of the less known characters from Greek mythology (she is Latona in Roman mythology). One of the episodes of her life is closely connected with frogs. When she wants to get some water for herself and her newborns, the peasants of Lykia don’t allow her that by stirring the mud at the bottom and making the water dirty. She becomes angry and said they behave like frogs, so they should be frogs. Painters loved the scene!
A full story of Leto is explained right here:
Latona and the Lycian Peasants by Annibale Carracci (1560–1609), oil on canvas, Kromeriz Archdiocesan Museum, Olomouc
The Second Plague of Egypt
Pharaoh of Egypt promised to let Moses’ people go but didn’t keep his promise. So his country was punished by ten catastrophes. The second one of them was an invasion of frogs. They were everywhere, from waters to bedrooms. Their croaking was unbearable. Here are a few graphic presentations by the artists.
The Plague of Frogs by Gerard Jollain (?-1683), engraving, The Saints Bible, Containing the Old and the New Testament, Enriched with Several Beautiful Figures, 1670
The Second Plague of Egypt – Frogs Will Spread Throughout The Land by Jan Luyken (1649-1712), copper engraving, Rijksmuseum Research Library, 1729
Plague from Exodus – Frogs by Jean Le Pautre (1618-1682), draft for a painting
Frogs Plague , Exodus by Johann Georg Pintz (1697-1767), Physica Sacra (Kupfer-Bibel), copperplate engraving, 1731
Fables with Frogs
Roles of animals in fables is very predictable. The fox is witty, the wolf if greedy, the rabbit timid, frogs may be much more versatile. In some fables they can be carefree, ambitious or simply mean, what somehow corresponds with their versatility in nature.
The Frogs Asking for a King
Frogs were not happy without some sort of leadership and persisted to get a king until they got one. They were very sorry about that but it was too late.
The Frogs Asking for a King by Arthur Rackham (1867-1939), Aesop’s Fables, 1912
The Frogs Asking for a King by Gustave Dore, Fables of La Fontaine, 1868
The Frogs Desiring A King by Richard Heighway (1832-1917), series of illustration, with decorative capital letter and a moral, The Fables of Aesop, 1922
King Log aka King Stork by Walter Crane (1845-1915), Baby’s Own Aesop, shortened and put into limericks for the younger reader, adaptation, illustration and design, 1887
The Frogs Who Desired a King by Charles Robinson (1870-1937), The Big Book of Fables, 1912
Frogs Asking for a King by Louis John Rhead (1857-1926), Aesop’s Fables, 1927
The Frogs and Their King by Thomas Bewick (1753-1828), Aesop’s Fables, two illustration, engravings, and a moral, 1783
Of the Frogs Desiring a King by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677), The Fables of Aesop, 1665
The Frogs Asking for a King by Harrison Weir (1824-1906), Three Hundred Aesop’s Fables, 1867
The Ox and the Frog
A frog decided to become as big as an ox and inflated oneself until exploded.
Benjamin Rabier (1864-1939) illustrated this series of illustrations for The Frog Who Would Be as Big as an Ox in La Fontaine’s Fables, published by Librairie illustree, Paris in 1906.
Tha same fable from the La Fontaine’s colection was published by Alfred Mame et fils, Tours, in 1863 and was reprinted at least six times (1881, 1898, 1935, 1945, 1952, 1953). The illustrator was Karl Girardet (1813-1871).
Harrison Weir illustrated The Ox and the Frog for the book Three hundred Aesop’s fables. This book was published by George Routledge and Sons in London and New York in 1867. It might be interesting to note that pictures were engraved by John Greenaway, father of Kate Greenaway. John Greenaway was a woodcutter, who was specialised in animal engravings after Weir’s illustration.
The illustration above is signed by Henry Walker Herrick (1826-1906), American illustrator and was one of many in The fables of Aesop ( with a life of the author), published by Hurd and Houghton, New York in 1869.
Next two illustrations were done by Oliver Herford (1863-1935):
They were published in The Herford Aesop: fifty fables in verse by Ginn and Co., Boston, in 1921.
(to be continued)
-The Hares and the Frogs
Hares had enough of being afraid of everything, so decided to drown themselves. By the way, they scared a few frogs. Noticing at least somebody is even more afraid than them, they immediately felt better.
-The Frog and the Rat
The frog coined a plan to trick the rat but the plan didn’t pan out particularly well. The hawk spotted and ate them. Both.
-The Two Frogs and the Well
Two frogs were looking for some water when they found a well. One promptly tried to jump in, but the other stopped him by asking: How will they come out?
-The Quack Frog
A frog (a toad) informed other animals he is a doctor who can cure all the diseases. His career was short-lived. a fox asked him how kind of doctor is he if he can’t cure his own wrinkles.
Fairy Tales with Frogs
The Frog King
This famous fairy tale about growing up, taking responsibilities, and getting ready for life-changing transformations is among the most popular in the world for centuries. There are only a few illustrations from the story.
The Frog King by Koleman Moser (1868-1918), oil on canvas, 1895
The Princess and the Frog by William Robert Symonds (1858-1937), oil on canvas, 1894, The Bridgeman Art Library
The Frog Prince by Marianne Stokes (1855-1927), oil on canvas, 1890, private collection
The Frog Princess (Frog Tsarevna) by Viktor Mikhailovich Vasnetsov (1848-1926), oil on canvas, 1918, Vasnetsov Memorial Museum, Moscow
While this picture presents the princess after the transformation, we can see her how she looked before in next one:
The Frog Princess (Tsarevna liagushka), picture book, 1901
If you want more illustrations on the theme of Frog Prince, visit a page dedicated to illustrations from The Frog King (The Frog Prince):
The Sleeping Beauty
There is no frog in older editions of this famous fairy tale, but brothers Grimm added it in the beginning, as a symbol of fertility who informs the queen about the baby she is yearning for so long time.
The Sleeping Beauty by Arthur Rackham, 1920
The Briar Rose by Adrian Ludwig Richter (1803-1884), Grimms’ Fairy Tales
There’s also a nursery rhyme A Frog He Would A-wooing Go, so masterfully illustrated by Randolph Caldecott.
All illustrations from this classic collectible picture book with additional info are available here:
We’ll add even more graphic material about frogs in the future, so stay tuned. Please, share this knowledge with your friends!