"The First Spring" (1945)

Illustration by Kay Nielsen



These images show Nielsen's dramatic mural, "The First Spring" - commissioned in the memory of Fillipa Pollia -

installed at Central Junior High School (Los Angeles) soon after its completion.


An extract from Jasmine Britton's contributions to The Horn Book Magazine (1945) provides a wonderful

introduction to this splendid work from Nielsen:

His latest work is "The First Spring". The students of Central Junior High School

feel that it is completely their mural. They chose the subject. They saw it from

the first sketch to the completed picture. They hung in at the open windows after

school and offered suggestions and free advice. One boy begged Kay Nielsen to

hurry and finish it before he graduated.


Another boy now in senior high school has returned several times to see the

progress made, while still another wrote from a hospital bed in France to ask

about the library's new picture. Several of the young people have begged that

animals and plants they cherished be included in the painting - a starfish, a field

mouse, lady bugs, and a four-leaf clover. One day a fat boy of thirteen, slow

of speech and profoundly thoughtful, said, "How do you like to be an artist,

Mr Nielsen?" Kay Nielsen answered, "Well, my boy, it gives me lots of joy, but

also it gives me lots of headaches," to which the fat boy contributed this bit of

philosophy: "But those are the kind of headaches that give joy to other people".

Another child looked with starry eyes as she said, "I've never seen such a beautiful

picture. It glows; there is a fresh new light over all the earth".


The little girl, Filippa Pollia, in whose memory this mural is given, would have

responded joyously and whole-heartedly to the beauty of "The First Spring". Her

shining eyes would have discovered the small lizard and beetles among the gay

wild flowers in the foreground. She would not have missed the monkey, the

kangaroo, the mountain goat high up on the ledge.


There are several things which the mural is not. First of all, it is far from clanging

machinery, pistons, dials, and wheels, with the taut muscles of labor. It does not

depict the wartime clash of military forces. It is not California history done in the

brilliant colors of Spain. But instead, it brings eternal values of the out-of-doors

and growing things. It refreshes the spirit with its harmony of color and find

drawing. One of our art instructors said, "It is as supremely beautiful as the Grieg

'A-Minor Concerto'". For Kay Nielsen it harks back to boyhood memories. He

and two other boys were taken to their first concert. While Haydn's "Creation"

was played, three awestruck boys listened. First there was the phrase, "The

Heavens Are Telling," and next, "With Verdure Clad". The music took on

meaning when the wise father smiled and pointed out to them, through the

various instruments, the voices of the animals. They heard the lowing of the

cattle, bird notes, ad the voice of Gabriel over all, as the instruments blended

in one joyous harmony. Their interest in animals made the music more

meaningful. Kay Nielsen never forgot this enriching experience of his youth.


Year after, he recalled once again the charm of Haydn's music and turned to

the first chapter of Genesis, the twenty-fifth verse, which read: "And God made

the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and everything

that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good".


As music heard long ago enriched Kay Nielsen's youth and extended its influence

in widening ripples through the years to his work today, so in turn Kay Nielsen

with his exquisite art, now deepened with spiritual values, has enriched the lives

of the young people in Central Junior High School. It will continue down

through the years to bring succeeding classes of boys and girls a greater awareness

of beauty.


His work on "The First Spring" has been Kay Nielsen's opportunity to express his

appreciation to this nation which has given him a welcome and freedom to paint

in these tragic time. He like to think of it as his contribution to democratic ideals

in which men of goodwill in all countries believe.



The images



Restored Mural

Single Greeting Card (with matching Envelope)

Price: US$5.00

Detail (for reference)




Original Mural

Single Greeting Card (with matching Envelope)

Code: KN FS1 SGC
Price: US$5.00

Detail (for reference)

Reproduction on 12x18" sheet

Code: KN FS1 12x18
Price: US$60.00



Detail (original mural)

Single Greeting Card (with matching Envelope)

Code: KN FS2 SGC
Price: US$5.00



Detail (original mural - for reference)

Reproduction on 12x18" sheet

Code: KN FS2 12x18
Price: US$60.00






Our Greeting Cards


When presented on Greeting Cards, these images are prepared tipped-on plates - in hommage to the hand-crafted

approach typical of prestige illustrated publications produced in the early decades of the 20th Century. Each card is

hand-finished, with the image presented on Ivory card stock (in the case of the colour image) or White card stock

(in the case of the monotone images) with an accompanying envelope. On the rear of each card we also present

some information about Kay Nielsen and this wonderful illustration. We have left the interior of the cards blank so

that you may write your own personal message.


Our large format reproductions


Each of our large format reproductions are prepared with archival quality materials and processes to ensure many years

of enjoyment. In addition, our reproductions are accompanied by explanatory material relating to Kay Nielsen and this

wonderful illustration.


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