Sunday, August 21, 2022

Vasily Vatagin, The Jungle Book

I recently came across this fabulous Russian artist who worked on several editions of Kipling's The Jungle Book. Vatagin lived from 1884 until 1969. 

These illustrations show not only his knowledge of animal anatomy but also of specific animal behavior. Most of all it is clear to see how much he loved the natural world.

I found these interesting infos online:

Vatagin illustrated a great number of children’s books by Ernest Thompson Seton, Jack London, Vitaly Bianki and others, thus becoming a real live classic of Soviet book illustration. But it was Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book” that brought him fame and popularity. Vatagin started his work at the book in 1922 and continued it up to the 1950s. He created an enormous number of illustrations, about 200 in all, and returned to them many times. A book which came out in 1922 included about 100 illustrations. The 1934 edition of the book featured three to four small drawings on each spread, which show the plot development. In the 1965 edition there were fewer but more developed, expressive and finished illustrations. Vatagin made the drawings in black-and-white, with ink and pencil, in the auto-lithography technique. The wildlife here is full of danger, and the combination of black and white conveys the feeling of tension in the jungle (“Maughli Learned to Jump from Branch to Branch”, “The Herd was Already Unable to Stop”, “Hathi Stepped Forward — It Was Clear That He is the Master of the Jungle”). The artist also pays great attention to the details of Indian life. In all, there have been 12 editions of the book with the artist’s illustrations, and readers have loved his drawings just as they loved Kipling's tales


  1. Very impressive! I remember looking at illustrations of a Russian book version of "Bedknobs and Broomsticks" a few years ago and even though the character of Miss Price was not exactly a bit of a beauty like Angela Lansbury in the Disney movie, the design of her was still appealing.

  2. These are waaayy more dynamic than the disney version...bigger line of action, strong compositions re;;; what the characters are going to do and the growth of Mowgli is the main part of this version story...very nice, but would be somewhat hard to animate to due to the hardness of shoulders, and such...but could still be done. I for one would love SOMEONE TO ANIMATE to this version, as the disney version is soft on hard issues that are in the Kipling book, as should be for the time that that film came out. Have not seen the live action version of the disney version of this title....wonder if it updated hard issues of survival is what i infur to....and good and kind is your tiger and girl animated story short coming along?...finished?... and if so when and where to watch said same of whatever it is called...or did u retitle it as rumors have it that u did indeed retitled it from the orignal title??!!!!!....and are you working on more animation inde shorts by chance?...if not why not?...can some of us join you in other upcoming shorts ...good and kind sir???

  3. Wow those drawings are really beautiful. Thanks for sharing them!

  4. Vatagin is one of my favorite animal artists! In my personal collection there is his book "The Image of an animal. Notes of an animalist", 1957 edition. This is a book of reflections, the results of his creative activity, searches, observations of the world of wildlife. Vatagin attaches great importance to the preservation of the animal world and the environment : "It is necessary to instill love for the animal from childhood, to draw the child's attention to the beauty of the animal, to maternal care for the cubs, to the feeling of affection with which it responds to every kind attitude."
    I'm sorry if I didn't convey my idea well, I had to use a translator