Animation Artifacts &Books &Illustration 15 Sep 2009 07:29 am


- The brilliant artist/designer/background artist, Paul Julian, illustrated a stunner of a children’s book in 1953. Piccoli is the story of Piccoli Sogni (little dreams) a tiny girl who lives in a matchbox. A stranger gives her as a gift to a sad young boy. She helps to inspire him creatively.

The story is by Phillippe Halsman which he had written for his daughters. He was a celebrated photographer who worked with Salvador Dali on the book Dali’s Moustache. In 1958 he was chosen as one of the 10 greatest photographers in an Internation poll. His 1959 book, Philippe Halsman’s Jump Book, collected more than 200 recognized photographs.

Paul Julian, of course, is well known by animation enthusiasts as one of the principal background artists for many of the most famous Warner Bros cartoons. He also gained some fame for his art direction of the UPA masterpiece, The Tell-Tale Heart.

His work has always seemed just slightly this side of the surreal, to me. His color choices were masterful and the many backgrounds he did reflect his own style. See this excellent post by Hans Bacher on his important blog, Animation Treasures.

John Canemaker loaned me a number of color copies of the book, and I tried to get an accurate read on the colors from the copies, but I suspect they’re still a bit off. Here are Julian’s illustrations for Piccoli:

The inner cover of the book.


At times the art looks influenced by Gregorio Prestopino.






This is actually a composite of two different illustrations
on two separate pages in the book.








27 Responses to “Piccoli”

  1. on 15 Sep 2009 at 8:27 am 1.Bill said …

    WOW, What a find, timeless!

  2. on 15 Sep 2009 at 8:51 am 2.Ignacio Carlos Ochoa said …

    You have confused of Hans. Is not Perk is Bacher.

    This book is really beautifull. The Paul Julian technique and work are amazing.
    You know something about the technique?
    Gouache? Watercolor?


  3. on 15 Sep 2009 at 9:14 am 3.Elliot Cowan said …

    Somebody with money might see this post and turn these lovely illustrations into a horrible live action film…

  4. on 15 Sep 2009 at 10:37 am 4.Kellie Strøm said …

    Brilliant! I particularly love the robber in the doorway, and the mailbox in the rain.

  5. on 15 Sep 2009 at 12:19 pm 5.willy hartland said …

    Another great Artist you’ve turned me on to Michael!

  6. on 15 Sep 2009 at 1:20 pm 6.John R. Dilworth said …

    Michael, there is definitely a secret language going on in the art, as if Jung had been at it. And how about the seemingly diffused third person consciousness in the rendering? Yes, I’ve read about incongruities of the dreamer; may suggest infinite possibilities. Tuesday is starting off well!

  7. on 15 Sep 2009 at 5:24 pm 7.Thad said …


  8. on 15 Sep 2009 at 7:15 pm 8.hans bacher said …

    besides julian’s background work for animation I had never seen anything else he did. the illustrations show an interesting mix of gustave tenggren and ben shahn. did he illustrate more books?

  9. on 16 Sep 2009 at 1:56 pm 9.BennyZ said …

    Wow, this brings back memories! My mom had this book when she was young and I used to read it growing up as well. Several years ago- after I had become a student of animation – I was sifting through the stories of my childhood, looking for inspiration, and I came across Piccoli and was astonished to see that Julian was the illustrator. It’s a lovely story, and of course the illustrations are spectacular.

  10. on 17 Sep 2009 at 12:03 pm 10.Floyd Norman said …

    I searched for this book for years. I began to wonder if it even existed.

    Finally, I met Paul Julian’s daughter, Alison, who happens to be a wonderful illustrator herself. She remembered her father’s book, and even had a copy of it.

  11. on 18 Sep 2009 at 6:30 pm 11.Josh Parpan said …

    Thank you for posting these.. these are some of the most exciting illustrations that I’ve seen in very long time! just Wow!

  12. on 19 Sep 2009 at 2:21 pm 12.Ward said …

    Michael, are there more illustrations in the book? I read a description on the book and they said that there were 31 illustrations.

    This is wonderful, by the way. Thank you so much for sharing! John, too!

  13. on 19 Sep 2009 at 3:09 pm 13.Michael said …

    No, Ward. That’s the entire book. There are a few pages that are text only, but all of the illustrations are here.

  14. on 19 Sep 2009 at 7:44 pm 14.robin said …


    this is a blessing..what a treat..really! thanks for sharing this!!

  15. on 21 Sep 2009 at 12:23 pm 15.Drazen said …

    One of my favourite books of all time.
    I was lucky enough to find this at a book show for 20 bucks many years ago.

    Its criminal he didn’t do more books.


  16. on 21 Sep 2009 at 3:17 pm said …


  17. on 26 Sep 2009 at 8:42 am 17.Martin Juneau said …

    Great art style. They should bring back this kind of old books thesa days.

  18. on 01 Oct 2009 at 4:00 am 18.Paul K said …

    My father was a good friend of Paul Julian. Through the years Paul gave him a few very different pieces of art. I have one painting and a garden sculpture. If any one would like see a photo of either, I would be welling to share.

  19. on 15 Oct 2009 at 11:41 pm 19.Verany said …

    Is this the guy who drew that singing frog in Warner Bross ? This illustrations are fantastic !!

  20. on 17 Mar 2010 at 6:27 pm 20.jeannie Kamins said …

    Hi. I knew Paul Julian and his daughters when we were children. Our parents were friends. My father was a doctor. I thought you might like to know that my dad’s name and address were on the pill box that Picolli came out of. I do have one old painting of his. It is wonderful. Full of mermaids and wizards.


  21. on 18 Mar 2010 at 8:38 am 21.Michael said …

    I’ll bet that painting is a treasure. You’re lucky to have it and to have known him.

  22. on 22 May 2010 at 6:47 am 22.maureen fischer said …

    for years i have been trying to find a copy of this out of print book. it was a childhood favorite, and just last night i was describing the story as i remembered it, to my grandchildren.

    the illustrations are so captivating—they have brought back the entire story to me. i wish that someone would re-publish this book.

  23. on 20 Jul 2010 at 3:37 pm 23.Barbara Arnold said …

    Piccoli was my favorite book as a child, and it is a thrill to see the illustrations again after so many years (more than fifty!. I would love to acquire a copy of the book again. One of the great childrens books of all time. It really should be published again! Both the author and illustrator were brilliant people.
    I will persevere in finding a copy so that I can share it with my grandchildren.

  24. on 30 Jul 2010 at 8:00 pm 24.Anne said …

    This was one of my favorite books. I still have my original, very cherished, copy. I wonder why it’s out of print. It’s an excellent story.

  25. on 07 Aug 2011 at 5:14 pm 25.Tina said …

    I’ve been looking for this book for many years. How wonderful to see the illustrations and compare them to my memories of the book. It’s amazing to see that so many others felt the same way about it.
    Like so many others, I wish it could be reprinted.

  26. on 26 Feb 2012 at 2:16 pm 26.marian said …

    I have this book from my childhood in the late 50′s early 60′s. I think about it every now and then, and just reread it last night. So today I am searching for Julian. The story is all over the place – mixing attempts to deliver little lessons in manners, charismatic political heists, with the strangest celebrity motivation to Piccoli departure. Use your head. All this to say – the text is half baked at best. But the story told by the illustrations….SUBLIME. Thank you Paul Julian!

  27. on 25 May 2016 at 3:35 pm 27.Barbara Quarrels said …

    This was my favorite book as a child…I went searching and found this site….so delighted to see the pictures once more,…. I surly wish it would be reprinted for my grands and great-grands.

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