Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
(1785–1863, 1786–1859)

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Hinrichtung Ludwigs XVI (The execution of Louis XVI), 1797, watercolor on paper (facsimile), Verwaltung der Staatlichen Schlösser und Gärten Hessen, installation view, Neue Galerie, Kassel, documenta 14, photo: Fred Dott

Before there were folktales, there were forests. Before Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm’s publication of their famed volumes of Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Children’s and Household Tales) starting in 1812, the brothers coedited the journal Altdeutsche Wälder (Old German forests), a short-lived publishing platform for old German literature named after the mythical Central European forest, in which so many of the fairytales were set. Already in the Grimm brothers’ time, however, much of this primeval forest was indeed something of a myth, as a result of reforestation schemes that had started in the late eighteenth century.

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