The development of the Arts and Crafts movement in the late 19th century led to the publication of many books and periodicals offering design suggestions to artists, craftspeople and decorators. The more popular examples, like the long-running Dekorative Vorbilder, comprised collections of plates by different artists, in styles that ran from imitations of rococo decoration to the latest Art Nouveau (or Jugendstil) graphics. Other books presented designs by single artists. Alphonse Mucha created two of these, Documents Decoratifs (1902) and Figures Décoratives (1905), while also collaborating with Maurice Verneuil and George Auriol on Combinaisons Ornementals (1901). Verneuil produced a book of his own designs, L’Animal dans la Decoration (1897), in which animals of all kinds were depicted in Verneuil’s precise and versatile Art Nouveau manner.
Das Thier in der Decorativen Kunst (The Animal in Decorative Art) is an Austrian equivalent of L’Animal dans la Decoration, and one in which artist Anton Seder didn’t feel as constrained as Verneuil by biological accuracy. Three of the plates in Seder’s book are devoted to a variety of snarling dragons that were probably more useful for illustrators than interior designers. The rest of the book is a combination of reality and fantasy, with fish in various states of pop-eyed alarm, a collection of piscine grotesques that I’ll be looking at if I ever have to draw the inhabitants of Innsmouth again, and many beautiful renderings of birds, reptiles, crustaceans, feathers and shells. Seder’s book was reprinted by Dover Publications as Fantastic Beasts of the Nineteenth Century but you can browse or download the original for free here. (The date given at the Internet Archive is 1896 but several of the plates show dates later than this.)