The theme for February's Livres du Mois is Art Nouveau, a collection of books featuring artists, architects and designers of the movement, including many illustrators who have previously featured in the Compendium. We begin with Kay Nielsen.
East of the Sun and West of the Moon
"Step into a world of star-crossed lovers, magical winds, mischievous giants, and trolls, through some of the most exquisite illustrations in publishing history. In this gorgeous reprint, TASCHEN revives the most ambitious publication project of beloved Danish artist Kay Nielsen, one of the most famous children’s book illustrators of all time.
First published in 1914, East of the Sun and West of the Moon is a celebrated collection of fifteen fairy tales, gathered by legendary Norwegian folklorists Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Engebretsen Moe on their journeys across Norway in the mid-nineteenth century. Nielsen’s illustration edition of Asbjørnsen and Moe’s tales is considered a jewel of early 20th-century children's literature."
Art Nouveau to Modernism
"The aesthetic of architect Hector Guimard has long characterised French Art Nouveau in the popular imagination. This groundbreaking book showcases all aspects of his artistry and recognises the fundamental modernity of his work. Known for, among other things, the decorative entrances to the Paris Metro and the associated lettering, he often looked to nature for inspiration, and combined materials such as stone and cast iron in unique ways to create designs composed of curves and waves that evoked movement.
Guimard broke away from his classical Beaux-Arts training to advocate a modern, abstract style; he also pioneered the use of standardized models for his design objects and experimented with prefabricated designs in his social housing commissions, advancing the technology of the time. With copious, beautifully reproduced illustrations of his architectural drawings as well as his furniture, jewelry, and textile designs, this volume explores Guimard's full oeuvre and elucidates the significance of his work to the history of modern art. Essays by an international group of scholars present Guimard as a visionary architect, a shrewd entrepreneur, an industrialist, and a social activist."
The Art & Illustration of
"Walter Crane was an English artist and book illustrator. He is considered to be the most influential, and among the most prolific children's book creators of his generation. Crane's work featured some of the more colourful and detailed beginnings of the child-in-the-garden motifs that would characterize many nursery rhymes and children's stories for decades to come.
This original collection of more than 100 images commemorates the artistry of a prominent figure from the Golden Age of Illustration. It surveys Crane's best paintings and offers a visual history of the first color illustrations for children's books, with scenes from fairy and folk tales and classics by Shakespeare, Hawthorne, and Spenser."
The Architect of
"Victor Horta is well known as the creator of Art Nouveau architecture. Following the design of the Hôtel Tassel, Brussels, in 1893, Horta produced more than 40 buildings during the following decade. This new book discusses the many influences on his designs, and his legacy.
Detailed descriptions of 19 projects, including Edicule Lambeaux, Hôtel Autrique, Hôtel Max Hallet and the Brugmann Hospital, are illustrated with Horta’s original drawings and specially commissioned photographs by award-winning architectural photographer Alastair Carew-Cox. Included in this book are extensive photographs of Hôtel Solvay, one of Horta’s most important works; access to photographers had been denied for 20 years, but special access was granted to Alastair Carew-Cox in the summer of 2016 in recognition of his and Professor David Dernie’s significant contribution to the study of Horta."
Old French Fairy tales
Virginia Frances Sterrett
"Old French Fairy Tales is a collection of french folklore and fairytales, penned by Sophie Rostopchine, Countess of Ségur. Ségur was a French writer of Russian birth, best known today for her novel Les Malheurs de Sophie (Sophie's misfortunes), intended for children. The anthology contains stories split into four categories: 'Blondine, Bonne-Biche, and Beau-Minon', 'Good Little Henry', 'Princess Rosette', 'Little Gay Mouse' and 'Ourson'.
The stories in Old French Fairy Tales are accompanied by the truly beautiful illustrations of Virginia Frances Sterrett. Presented alongside the text, her illustrations further refine and elucidate Ségur's masterful storytelling. Sterrett was an American artist and illustrator - one of the most talented, though also most tragic, of the 'Golden Age' illustrators. Sterrett's illustrations are delicate yet powerful, inspired by the tradition of Art Nouveaux with its light washes of colour and sinuous black lines. She only completed three works in her lifetime, due to her early death from tuberculosis at the age of thirty-one. These include Old French Fairy Tales (1920), Tanglewood Tales (1921) and Arabian Nights (1928)."
Master of Art Nouveau Design
"Louis Majorelle was a French decorator and furniture designer who manufactured his own designs, in the French tradition of the ébéniste. He was one of the outstanding designers of furniture in the Art Nouveau style, and after 1901 formally served as one of the vice-presidents of the École de Nancy, a group of Art Nouveau artisans and designers working in Nancy, France between 1890 and 1914.
Majorelle's furniture, embellished with inlays, took their inspiration from nature: stems of plants, waterlily leaves, tendrils, dragonflies. Before 1900 he added a metalworking atelier to the workshops, to produce drawerpulls and mounts in keeping with the fluid lines of his woodwork. His studio also was responsible for the ironwork of balconies, staircase railings, and exterior details on many buildings in Nancy at the turn of the twentieth century."
"Charles Robinson was an English illustrator whose characterful art is still popular today. He was born in London into a family of artists including his father and brothers (William Heath and Thomas Heath). His often highly detailed line work and charming colour paintings saw him become popular and in demand as an illustrator.
During his career he illustrated a great many popular children's books of the time such as Lullaby Land, Grimm's Fairy Tales, The Secret Garden and many, many more. This large format book features over 100 beautifully reproduced examples of Charles' colour paintings and black and white pen work, mostly full page. A comprehensive collection that is certain to delight lovers of the great artists from the 'Golden Age' of illustration."
Paul Hankar, Architect
Ten years of Art Nouveau
"Paul Hankar was a Belgian architect and furniture designer, and an innovator in the Art Nouveau style. He studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels, where he met fellow student (and future architect) Victor Horta. Like Horta, he closely studied the techniques of forged iron, which he would later use in many of his buildings.
Trained by Henri Beyaert, with whom he then worked until 1893, he began his career by building his own house in Brussels. Together with Victor Horta’s Tassel mansion, it is considered to be the first Art Nouveau building in Belgium. This construction was highly acclaimed by Belgian and foreign specialists, including the French architect Hector Guimard. An exhibition devoted to his work was held as early as 1896, when Fernand Khnopff, an artist as well as a formidable art critic, highlighted his talent. Together with Henry van de Velde, Gustave Serrurier-Bovy and Georges Hobé, he was asked to take part in the Congolese Exhibition (held in Tervuren) and would collaborate throughout his life with Adolphe Crespin, an interior designer and sgraffiti specialist."
"Ivan Bilibin was a Russian illustrator and stage designer. He created a specific "Bilibin" style in book illustrations; a style which is firmly rooted in the stylised forms of Russian folk and medieval art. Bilibin's use of the precise lines associates him with the graphic work of Art Nouveau.
This edition covers all aspects of Bilibin's work - book illustration, easel drawing and stage design. The book contains 98 colour plates and 97 black and white reproductions."
"Alphonse Mucha, was a Czech painter, illustrator, and graphic artist, living in Paris during the Art Nouveau period, best known for his distinctly stylised and decorative theatrical posters, particularly those of Sarah Bernhardt.
Mucha produced illustrations, advertisements, decorative panels, as well as designs, which became among the best-known images of the period. Though very much an individual and spiritual artist, Alphonse Mucha was a defining figure of the Art Nouveau era and is loved for his distinctive lush style and images of beautiful women in arabesque poses. The book includes a whole range of his work in its full glory with succinct accompanying text."
I hope you have found a book to interest you amongst this collection, but if not, there may be a something more to your tastes in the Compendium's Library.