{ feuilleton }


• • • Being a journal by artist and designer John Coulthart, cataloguing interests, obsessions and passing enthusiasms.

Archive for the ‘fin de siècle’ tag


The case of the fin de siècle fleuron


I said yesterday that poppies are a common feature of the fin de siècle magazines for the convenient way they combine long-stemmed flowers—ideal for all those Art Nouveau flourishes—with narcotic connotations that signal Decadence. The spiralling fleuron above is one example that readers of Savoy books may recognise, an occasional company logo which has been […]

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Cocorico covers


Alphonse Mucha. For a while now I’ve been waiting for several French journals of the fin de siècle to turn up online but humour magazine Cocorico has never been among them. I knew that Alphonse Mucha had contributed a handful of covers and some other graphics to Cocorico, notably the frontispiece (below) which ran in […]

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The Talking Thrush and Other Tales of India


British illustrator William Heath Robinson died in 1944 which means that 2015 will see his own books fall into the public domain in many countries. The books he produced during and after the First World War established his reputation as a creator of impromptu contraptions, to such a degree that the term “Heath Robinson” has […]

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Weekend links 220


Untitled painting by Aleksandra Waliszewska. • Ben Wheatley’s forthcoming film of High-Rise by JG Ballard now has its own Tumblr. This will no doubt be spoilerific so I won’t keep on visiting but it’s there if you require it. More Ballardianism: “Worshipping the Crash” at BLDGBLOG. • “Aickman wandered through the sixties fantasy landscape like […]

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Weekend links 219


Grendel Monster (2013) by Anna & Elena Balbusso. • Rick Poynor looks at the Guide de la France mystérieuse (1964), a fantastic (in every sense) doorstop of a volume whose collage alphabet by Roman Cieslewicz can be seen on the cover of Carnival In Babylon (1972) by Amon Düül II. • Boolean mathematics, Charles Howard […]

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The chimeras of Dimitrie Paciurea


Chimera (1923). One of the many commendable things about Dreamers of Decadence (1971) by Philippe Jullian is the use of the figure of the chimera to describe the impulse that drove the development of Symbolist art in the late 19th century. A chimera is a fabulous, hybrid creature which is also a metaphor for an […]

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Beardsley reviewed


More Aubrey Beardsley ephemera. These pages are from the bound edition of The Studio for 1894, reviews of two of Beardsley’s earliest publications: the first editions of Le Morte d’Arthur (which was published in multiple volumes), and the illustrated edition of Oscar Wilde’s Salomé which sealed Beardsley’s reputation as a major force in the art of […]

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The art of Sergius Hruby, 1869–1943


Sergius Hruby was an Austrian artist who specialised in that fin de siècle staple, the malevolent or sinister woman. Or so it would seem from these examples which, since I’ve chosen the more assertively Decadent fare, may be doing him a disservice. The style is very similar to another Austrian artist, Franz von Bayros, albeit […]

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Weekend links 158


Pan II (2012) by Fredrik Söderberg. • “Aubade was a surprise success, selling some 5000 copies and going into a second printing and an edition published in America.  Martin was immediately a minor celebrity, being interviewed for articles that couldn’t mention what his book was actually about.” Rediscovering the works of Kenneth Martin. • “I […]

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The art of Ferenc Helbing, 1870–1958


Beautiful Century drew my attention to this Hungarian artist and designer, one of many Eastern Europeans passed over in fin de siècle art books by virtue of working too far from Paris, Munich or Vienna. Helbing’s work would have been most visible to Hungarians in the designs he produced for the nation’s banknotes but on […]

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Post number three thousand, and searching the memory for anything which might be filed under MMM led to more occult art. Moina MacGregor Mathers (1865–1928) was the wife of Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, one of the founders of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in the 1880s. Moina was the sister of the French […]

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La tête de Robert


I’m working against a deadline this week so I’ll apologise in advance if posts tend to be brief. I’ve had this picture hanging around for a couple of months, something that good friend Thom sent me (thanks Thom!) to add to the apparently limitless catalogue of Salomé-related pictures. The subject is everyone’s favourite fin de […]

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Picturing Dorian Gray


It’s taken a while but here at last are some of the pages from my series of illustrations based on The Picture of Dorian Gray, as featured in volume 2 of The Graphic Canon (“The World’s Great Literature as Comics and Visuals”) edited by Russ Kick. I agreed with Russ not to run everything so […]

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Frantisek Drtikol’s Salomés


Salomé (c. 1919). Frantisek Drtikol (1883–1961) was a Czech artist and photographer whose nude studies frequently borrowed fin de siècle themes. Salomé was a subject he returned to on many occasions with different models. In other hands this might be a pretext for showing naked flesh but Drtikol’s work goes beyond mere soft porn with […]

Posted in {photography} | 3 comments »


Rue St. Augustin, then and now


Boutique art nouveau, 45 rue st. Augustin (2e arr, 1904–05). Despite being reasonably familiar with Eugène Atget’s celebrated photos of Paris, this picture of a very elaborate Art Nouveau façade is something I’d not seen until now. The photo is part of the George Eastman House collection of Atget prints, and is unusual for showing […]

Posted in {architecture}, {art nouveau}, {cities}, {design}, {photography} | 3 comments »


Three stages of Icarus


Daedalus and Icarus (1615–1625) by Anthony van Dyck. The story of the doomed youth as seen via the few Icarus works at the Google Art Project. Brueghel’s famous painting is absent, unfortunately, so I won’t quote the equally famous lines by Auden either. Van Dyck gives us a golden-haired twink that Auden might approve of […]

Posted in {art}, {eye candy}, {painting} | 3 comments »


L’art dans la décoration extérieure des livres


Back at the fin de siècle with this study by Octave Uzanne of book cover design in the 1890s. L’art dans la décoration extérieure des livres is over four hundred pages of very varied designs, from covers for popular novels to the state of the art by usual suspects Aubrey Beardsley, Charles Ricketts et al. […]

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Weekend links 96


Sin título (monstruas) (2008) by Marina Núñez.    • Salon asks Christopher Bram “Is gay literature over?” Bram’s new book, Eminent Outlaws: The Gay Writers Who Changed America, is reviewed here. • Robert Montgomery is profiled at the Independent as “The artist vandalising advertising with poetry.” In addition to aesthetics, McCarthy noted a deeper link […]

Posted in {art}, {black and white}, {books}, {burroughs}, {comics}, {cormac}, {drugs}, {electronica}, {fashion}, {film}, {gay}, {illustrators}, {music}, {painting}, {politics}, {science} | 2 comments »


Koloman Moser posters


Secession poster (1899). Since I’ve been delving over the past year into the fin de siècle culture of Germany and Austria, the name of Koloman Moser (1868–1918) has kept recurring. This is partly because of Moser’s associations with the Viennese Secession and the Wiener Werkstätte, of course, but I’ve made a point of drawing attention […]

Posted in {art nouveau}, {art}, {design}, {theatre}, {typography} | 2 comments »


Wildeana 6


“The rich making merry in their beautiful houses, while the beggars were sitting at the gates.” Above and below: illustrations by Charles Robinson from The Happy Prince and Other Tales, an edition from 1920. Continuing an occasional series. I’ve yet to see a copy of the recent annotated and unexpurgated edition of The Picture of […]

Posted in {art}, {books}, {film}, {gay}, {illustrators}, {painting} | 9 comments »







“feed your head”