Monday, July 27, 2015

Creator: Theodore Nadejen

San Francisco Chronicle
April 27, 1930

Theodore Nadejen, Illustrator

Harper’s Magazine
November 1922
The Soldier and Death
By Arthur Ransome
“The [five] illustrations are by J. [sic] Nadejen, a
young Russian artist now resident in this country.”

Jacket illustration
George H. Doran Company, 1923
Kai Ling

Ernest Bramah
George H. Doran Company, 1923
Jacket illustration

Edward Lucas White
Cover and interior illustrations
George H. Doran Co., 1925

The New York Times Book Review
May 31, 1925

The New York Times Book Review
June 7, 1925

DuBose Heyward
George H. Doran Co., 1925

Ida Zeitlin
George H. Doran Co., 1926

The Bookman

February 1926
The Golden Cock
Ida Zeitlin and Theodore Nadejen
Three illustrations

New York Sun
December 20, 1926
American Girl and Russian Artist Bring Fascinating Gift to Children
Tales and Legends of Old Russia for Youthful Ears and Eager Eyes
…A wandering legionary of fortune, Theodore Nadejen brought a portfolio of drawings of Russian peasant life to the Doran offices one day. He was retained to illustrate books. Born in Kharkov in the Ukraine, a former sea captain, a philosopher and an artist, Nadejen cherished the incessant hope of illustrating a book of Russian wonder tales.
To the Doran editors and Ida Zeitlin, in halting English, he told of the fabulous and sage tales that laid slumbering in the broad land of the steppes and the Caucasus of the legendary, little hut of chicken’s legs that turn round and round in the heart of the forest; of young Czarevitchs guarded by gray wolves; of the witch, Baba Yaga, who rides on mortar and pestle instead of a broomstick, and of the Mishka, the symbolical, beloved Russian bear….

(New Orleans, Louisiana)
March 13, 1927

City of Bread
Alexander Neweroff
George H. Doran Co., 1927

New York Sun
November 21, 1927

Ida Zeitlin
Cover and interior illustrations
George H. Doran Co., 1927

Greensboro Daily Record
(North Carolina)
December 17, 1927

Francis Brett Young
Jacket illustration
E. P. Dutton and Co., 1927

Ernest Bramah
Jacket illustration
Doubleday Doran, 1928

Nadejen’s Signature

Brooklyn Daily Eagle
(New York)
May 23, 1928

C. E. Scoggins
Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1929

Fisherman and His Soul, and Other Fairy Tales
Oscar Wilde
Cover and interior illustrations
Farrar & Rinehart, 1929

Ida Zeitlin
Cover and interior illustrations
Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1929

Nassau Daily Review
(Freeport, New York)
November 25, 1929
Romantic Story About a Romantic Book
When the Royal Yugoslav Consul-General, Radoye Yankovitch, received from Harpers an advance copy of “King’s Pleasure,” he was overcome with emotion that the story of Serbia should at last be told—and by non-Serbians. Theodore Nadejen, the famous Russian artist, went to Serbia two years ago to study the frescoes of the old monasteries and gather material for a book about them. From priests and monks he learned tales of the kings and heroes whose bearded images he saw reproduced on the walls of their monasteries. Mr. Nadejen left Serbia with his notes and his enthusiasm and imparted both to Ida Zeitlin, who had written the text of “Skaski” and “Gessar Khan,” and who has now blended in “King’s Pleasure,” history end legend. There are thirty-two illustrations in full colors and black and white by Nadejen. A special copy has been sent to King Alexander in Belgrade.

Youel B. Mirza
Cover and interior illustrations
Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc., 1929

Stories from the Bible
Walter de La Mare
Cosmopolitan, 1929

Louis Couperus
Cover and interior illustrations
Farrar & Rinehart, 1930

The Boston Herald
June 14, 1930

Martin Birck’s Youth
Hjalmar Emil Frederick Soderberg
Translated from the Swedish by Charles Wharton Stork
Harper, 1930

Julia Davis Adams
E. P. Dutton and Co., 1930

Macon Telegraph
December 7, 1930

Peter, Katrinka’s Brother
Helen Eggleston Haskell
E. P. Dutton & Co., 1933

Caribee Cruise
John W. Vandercook
Reynal & Hitchcock, 1938

DuBose Heyward
Cover and interior illustrations
Farrar & Rinehart, 1939

Benson Wheeler and Claire Lee Purdy
Cover and interior illustrations
Henry Holt and Company, 1946

Theodore Nadejen was born in Kharkoff, Russia, on July 24, 1889. Nadejen’s birth information was on his Petition for Naturalization which he signed February 4, 1927. The Petition was approved May 10, 1927. The same birth date was recorded on Nadejen’s World War I draft card. However, on Nadejen’s World War II draft card, his birth date was August 6, 1889. This date was also recorded in the California and Social Security Death Indexes.

According to the Petition, Nadejen arrived in the United States at the port of Vanceboro, Maine, on April 15, 1918. From there he made his way to New York City.

Nadejen signed his World War I draft card on September 12, 1918. His address was 308 West 44th Street, New York City. Nadejen’s occupation was stage decorator. He was employed by H. Robert Lan or Law and worked at 502 West 38th Street. Nadajen named Ivan Shestakorsky as his nearest relative who was an agent for the Russian Volunteer Fleet in Brooklyn. Nadejen’s description was tall, medium build with gray eyes and light-colored hair.

The 1920 U.S. Federal Census recorded Nadejen as “Thomas Nadejen”, a native Russian who immigrated in 1918. He was a lodger at 308 West 44th Street in Manhattan, New York City.

Nadejen filed for naturalization on July 8, 1920. When Nadejen signed the Petition in 1927, he resided at 255 Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. His occupation was artist. The two witnesses who signed the Petition were Walter Mayo Harvey and Herbert Ward, both artists.

In the 1924 American Art Annual’s Who’s Who in Art section, Nadejen’s name was misspelled as “Madejen”.

Nadejen has not yet been found in the 1930 census. On August 17, 1931, Nadejen returned from Barbados. His address in Manhattan was 200 West 109th Street.

The New York, New York, Marriage Index, at, recorded Nadejen’s marriage, on September 8, 1931, to Ida Zeitlin who wrote several of the books he illustrated. Her profile of Nadejen appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, April 27, 1930.

At some point the couple moved to California. Nadejen lived at 5471 Valley Ridge Avenue in Los Angeles when he signed, on April 27, 1942, his World War II draft card. He was self-employed.

According to the California Death Index, Nadejen passed away November 20, 1974, in Los Angeles.


Nadejen, Boris Artzybasheff and Ivan Bilibin were profiled in New York Libraries, A Quarterly Devoted to the Interests of the Libraries of the State, May 1930. Below is Nadejen’s profile.
...Theodore Nadejen is an adventurer. Those who look on his finished books as they appear on the bookshop shelves and know nothing of the difficulty of matching colors will never realize how boldly adventurous Mr. Nadejen is.

His particular quality was not developed over night. Since he was a child in Kharkoff, Russia, he has known what he wanted and gone after it without any regard for the difficulties that might lie in his path. With as much decision as he now displays in directing printers, he told himself when he was twelve that he wanted to come to America. Twice he started in a row-boat by way of the Dnieper river and the Black sea. The third time he set forth he reached Kherson and after some difficulty found a hale old captain who would take him on. Next day he was navigating the Black and Azof seas on the good ship “Radost,” Russian for happiness!

Constantinople and the other ports at which the “Radost” touched piled up fanciful impressions in Nadejen’s fertile imagination, images colored by the lurid and often appealing stories told by the crew when it lay on the deck at night. The men and particularly the captain were kind to the boy. At the end of the trip he was sent home after being outfitted by the ship-chandler.

Of his trip two things remained, a love of the sea and a love of the color he had seen and heard. He cherished the two, and was soon busy preparing himself for entrance to the maritime school, and painting and studying painting. He worked in the studios of Bakst and Eugen Agafanoff until he was old enough to be commissioned fourth officer and sail to more colorful ports. At the outbreak of the war he found himself second in command of the “S.S. Vologda.” With the “Vologda” he arrived at a Canadian port, where the ship was seized by British authorities and its officers dismissed, for Russia was no longer one of the Allies. The boat was not his rowboat, but Nadejen had landed in America.

First years in a new country are not easy ones, but Nadejen found his way eventually to the offices of the George H. Doran Company. One showing of his portfolio brought forth a promise of an introduction of his work to America.

His first commission was for jackets for Ernest Bramah’s Kai Lung stories, jackets which were so beautiful that the publishers felt it their duty to incorporate the designs into the books themselves. Other publishers opened their eyes wide at these beautiful drawings and glorious color and began bidding for his services. Soon he began to find his way about in the best publishing establishments New York had to offer.

It remained for the wizard eye of the George H. Doran Company to discover his true capabilities, however. A suggestion that Mr Nadejen make a selection of his own native folk tales and design and illustrate the volume resulted in his setting to work on it at once. He confined his selection to the wonder story, representative of the Russian national folklore. Like all folklore these tales, or skazki in written form, developed late. That they have come down to us through the pens of such men as Afanasiev, whose name in Russian literature is the equivalent of the German Grimm, Pushkin, the poet, and Zhukovsky, is a matter of congratulation for Russia and the world at large.

In the preparation of the text for translation he was assisted by a native American, Mrs. Ida Clark Zeitlin, herself an able literary craftsman married to a Russian scholar. In translation Mrs Zeitlin has made no attempt to be exact but she has made every effort to retain the spirit of the original tales.

A glance through the volume reveals pictures as glowing and colorful as the tales themselves. For here are pictures in which the radiant yet flowerlike beauty of maidenhood is enhanced by jewelled headdresses of intricate design, illustrations in black and gold which show heroes girt in shining armor, turretted cities, magicians and wizards, peasants and emperors, pictures reflecting such mastery of line and color in combination with delicacy, virility and strength  as have never before been reproduced in a book designed for children.

In trying to sum up the worth of this volume for those of you who are unfamiliar with its content I can only say as did the prince suing for the hand of a princess “whose beauty was as the beauty of the young dawn, and of the radiant sun and of the shining stars.” Asked to describe her charms to the Tsar Sultan he replied, “Such is her loveliness as only can be told of in a tale.” For rich as it is in both artistry and legend, this book goes beyond the usual juvenile folk tale collection and becomes a book for all who appreciate the finer things of life.

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