Among the mythical figures encountered in fairy tales, the ogre is perhaps the most elusive. He appears to have no well-established characteristics other than his large size, his fierce temper, and his ability to change his shape and size. That lack of distinguishing features allows those who illustrate stories the widest possible latitude in depicting him.
Of all of the stories in which an ogre appears, Perrault’s Puss in Boots is the best known and the one that has appeared in the greatest number of editions. Most previous Puss in Boots exhibits, including one at the Morgan Library in New York in 1992, have concentrated on Puss, the heroic cat, who has a well-defined set of characteristics. This exhibit focuses on the ogre whom Puss defeats by persuading him to demonstrate his shape shifting abilities and pouncing on him when he changes into a mouse. It demonstrates the wide range of imaginative depictions that artists have created over the years in their representation of this mythical villain. The exhibit presents illustrations in 75 or more printed editions of Puss in Boots dating from 1820 to the present, complemented by original depictions of the ogre created for this exhibit, or from recent American children’s books, by Leonard Everett Fisher, Dennis Nolan, Tommy Rosa, Art Seiden, Jos. A. Smith, and Paul Zelinsky. A copy of Dore’s famous engraving of the ogre’s castle is included as well. Also incorporated into the exhibit are a series of porcelain figurines representing Puss in Boots and the ogre in some of his shapes created by Richard Palan, along with an assortment of dolls, toys, blocks, stamps, and other items that depict ogres and Puss in Boots.
Thomas J. Dodd Research Center
Curators: Jillian Cedio, Michael Patrick Hearn, and Norman D. Stevens