The art of Jean Carriès, 1855–1894


The Frog with Rabbit Ears (1891).

La matière de l’étrange, an exhibition of ceramic grotesques by Jean Carriès is currently running at the Petit Palais, Paris, through to January 27th, 2008. Carriès doesn’t feature in any of my books about eccentric or fantastic artists which I find surprising, his work is very peculiar by 19th century standards, looking like the creation of a Rodin obsessed by Lautréamont. Carriès’ series of “horror masks” are so similar to the earlier series of heads by sculptor Franz Messerschmidt I suspect there may be an influence there. And like Rodin, Carriès also had unsuccessful plans for a monumental gateway ornamented with his figures and scowling faces. Unlike Rodin, his plaster draft of the work was destroyed by a criminally unsympathetic curator but the Petit Palais exhibition attempts a reconstruction based on a model by Eugène Grasset.

Thanks to Nathalie for the tip!

English article at The Art Tribune
French page with video of the exhibition


Head of a Faun (1890–92?).


Grotesque mask, element for the Monumental Door (1891–94).

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The fantastic art archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Masks of Medusa
Bernini’s Anima Dannata
The art of Franz Xaver Messerschmidt, 1736–1783
The art of Stanislav Szukalski, 1893–1987

Lucien Gaillard


Two dragonflies (1904).

Art Nouveau insect jewellery by Lucien Gaillard (1861–1933).


Perfume bottle (?) (c. 1923).


Moth pendant (1900).

And while we’re on the subject, a display of precious stones and metals has opened at London’s Natural History Museum in a new gallery they’re calling The Vault.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Wesley Fleming’s glass insects
The art of Sergei Aparin
Insect Lab
The glass menagerie
The Museum of Fantastic Specimens

Stevenson and the dynamiters


The Dynamiter: More New Arabian Nights (Longmans, London; 1914).

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a sporadic collector of the Tusitala Edition of Robert Louis Stevenson’s works, 35 small blue volumes published by Heinemann, London in 1924. I’ve found 15 of them so far and today turned up another one, volume 25, Virginibus Pueresque and Other Essays in Belles Lettres. Most of the ones I’ve collected are later reprints and this is no exception, being a sixth edition from 1928. The popularity of the series and the many reprint editions is the main reason they still appear with such frequency. Another reason is that these small pocket books, which were very common before and after the First World War, were well-made and have easily outlasted the first generation of paperbacks that eventually replaced them. I’d have no trouble ordering a complete set of the Stevensons from a book dealer but prefer to let chance find new additions. Given the dearth of good secondhand shops this is becoming increasingly difficult.


Also in today’s book haul was an earlier Stevenson, The Dynamiter: More New Arabian Nights, in a rather battered leather binding from 1914. I bought it almost solely for the Art Nouveau motif on the cover whose ship suits the author of Treasure Island but doesn’t really fit with the London setting of this particular book. I seem to recall having seen this design before which means it’s probably part of a uniform set like the Tusitala Edition, each volume of which bears a palm tree design on the spine and the signature of RLS blocked on the front board.

The only number of the Tusitala Edition I have in a leather binding is this book’s precursor, volume 1, New Arabian Nights. The Dynamiters is a collection of linked stories that Stevenson wrote with his wife, the Arabian Nights conceit being an attempt to transplant the telling of tall tales from medieval Baghdad to Victorian London. The dynamiters are a group of inept terrorists whose comic exploits were based on the real Fenian bombings that took place in London in the 1880s. A later attempted bomb attack on the Greenwich Observatory inspired the unsuccessful anarchists in Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent. Whatever some contemporary commentators might have us believe, terrorist attacks in cities are nothing new at all, only in Stevenson’s day they were labelled “dynamite outrages”. Stevenson dedicates his stories to the police officers charged with protecting the capital and apologises for making light of a serious matter. I have to wonder what he would have made of modern Baghdad being plagued by dynamite outrages on such a regular basis. And I also wonder how much real dynamite many of these Longmans’ books might have encountered, having been published just in time to be packed in the kit of soldiers going to the Western Front.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The book covers archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Chronicles of Clovis and other sarcastic delights

Peter Reed and Salomé After Dark


Peter Reed from a 1977 photo shoot for After Dark magazine. The Flickr page this is from also has photos of the dancer by Robert Mapplethorpe (no longer…see below), while the After Dark pools have a wealth of scanned material ranging from the sexy to the iniquitous, with hair and fashion crimes aplenty.


David Meyer in Salomé.

And if you make your way past the shirtless models and naked ballet boys, the 1975 pages have a nice set of pictures from Lindsay Kemp’s Salomé which I hadn’t seen before.

Update: Unfortunately Hilly Blue has had to delete all his Flickr pages but he’s now blogging here. He explains what happened in the comments below.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The Salomé archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Felix D’Eon
Dancers by John Andresen
Youssef Nabil
Images of Nijinsky
The art of Hubert Stowitts, 1892–1953

The Age of Enchantment: Beardsley, Dulac and their Contemporaries


“Everything about her was white.” Illustration by Edmund Dulac for
The Dreamer of Dreams by Queen Marie of Roumania (1915).

A major exhibition of British fantasy illustration opens at the Dulwich Picture Gallery this Wednesday, running to February 17th, 2008. Considering the huge resurgence of popularity in fantasy for children I’m surprised none of the UK galleries have done this before now. The Dulwich organisers have chosen a suitably wintry picture by the wonderful Edmund Dulac to promote the exhibition which—intentionally or not—happens to look like a precursor of the poster art for The Golden Compass.

With the death of Aubrey Beardsley in 1898, the world of the illustrated book underwent a dramatic change. Gone were the degenerate images of scandal and deviance. The age of decadence was softened to delight rather than to shock. Whimsy and a pastel toned world of childish delights and an innocent exoticism unfolded in the pages of familiar fables, classic tales and those children’s stories like The Arabian Nights and Hans Andersens’ Stories. These were published with lavish colour plates and fine bindings: these were the coffee table books of a new age.

As a result a new generation of illustrators emerged. This new group of artists was intent upon borrowing from the past, especially the fantasies of the rococo, the rich decorative elements of the Orient, the Near East, and fairy worlds of the Victorians. The masters of this new art form were artists like Edmund Dulac and Kay Nielson, whose inventive book productions, with those of Arthur Rackham, became legendary. Disciples gathered, like Jessie King and Annie French, the Scottish masters of the ethereal and the poetic, the Detmold Brothers, masters of natural fantasy, as well as those who remained in Beardsley’s shadow: the warped yet fascinating works of Sidney Sime, a joyously eccentric coal-miner turned artist, Laurence Housman, master of the fairy tale, the precious inventions from the classics by Charles Ricketts, the Irish fantasies of Harry Clarke, himself a master of stained glass as well as the gift book, and the rich and exotic world of Alaistair. Children’s stories were transformed by the imaginations of a group still bowing to the Victorians Walter Crane, Randolph Caldecott and Kate Greenaway and the fairies of Richard Doyle but these were now given a more colourful intensity by Charles Robinson, Patten Wilson, Anning Bell, Bernard Sleigh and Maxwell Armfield.

The exhibition of British fantasy illustration will be the first such exhibition in Britain and the first worldwide for over 20 years (the last being in New York in 1979). All works, of which over 100 are planned, will come largely from British museums and private collections, many of these will never have been seen publicly before in Britain.

The exhibition is curated by Rodney Engen.

AS Byatt reviewed the exhibition for The Guardian and also looked at the sinister perversity underlying many of the Edwardian fairy tales.

Edmund Dulac at Art Passions

Books by Queen Marie of Roumania:
The Dreamer of Dreams (1915; illus: Edmund Dulac)
The Stealers of Light (1916; illus: Edmund Dulac)
Vom Wunder der Tränen (1938; illus: Sulamith Wülfing)

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The illustrators archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Masonic fonts and the designer’s dark materials