The Sapphire Museum of Magic and Occultism

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Cover design by Pamela Colman Smith for The Tarot of the Bohemians by “Papus” aka Gérard Encausse (1910).

The Sapphire Museum of Magic and Occultism says it’s been around since 1999 but I don’t recall having come across it before. Among a variety of fascinating rarities is this gallery section devoted to some of the less well-known illustrators of occult or occult-related books from the late 19th and early 20th century. Included there are two substantial galleries of work by Pamela Colman Smith, artist of the world’s most popular Tarot deck. Many of the scans are high-quality and, like the pictures at Golden Age Comic Book Stories, seem to be taken from the original printings. A great site.

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top left: WT Horton; top right: Cecil French.
bottom left: Althea Gyles; bottom right: M Bergson MacGregor.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The illustrators archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Pamela Colman Smith’s Russian Ballet
The art of Julien Champagne, 1877–1932
The art of Pamela Colman Smith, 1878–1951
The art of Andrey Avinoff, 1884–1949
The art of Cameron, 1922–1995
Austin Osman Spare

The Red Book by Carl Jung

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This month is a major one in book publishing as Carl Jung’s magnum opus The Red Book, or Liber Novus, which has remained unpublished for 80 years, is issued in a facsimile edition. Selections of pages have been turning up in reviews and online previews which easily whet the appetite.

In his late 30s, Jung started writing a book called The Red Book. The Red Book is part journal, part mythological novel that takes the reader through Jung’s fantasies — hallucinations he self-induced to try and get to the core of his unconscious. … The book detailed an unabashedly psychedelic voyage through his own mind, a vaguely Homeric progression of encounters with strange people taking place in a curious, shifting dreamscape. Writing in German, he filled 205 oversize pages with elaborate calligraphy and with richly hued, staggeringly detailed paintings. (More.)

Jung maintained a lifelong fascination with alchemical symbolism and many of these pages resemble the kind of plates one finds in alchemical treatises such as the Splendor Solis, if that book had also contained additions from William Blake and Hildegard von Bingen. The only drawback is the price: at £120 this isn’t a casual purchase, but then this is over 400 pages of full-colour at a big size, 45.7 x 30.5 x 5.1 cm. Time to start petitioning rich relatives for Christmas.

The Holy Grail of the Unconscious

Previously on { feuilleton }
The art of Julien Champagne, 1877–1932
Digital alchemy
In the Shadow of the Sun by Derek Jarman

The art of Julien Champagne, 1877–1932

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An obscure occult artist even among catalogues of obscure occult artists, Julien Champagne (also listed as Jean-Julian) is known principally for his associations with the persistently elusive 20th century alchemist Fulcanelli. Champagne provided a frontispiece (below) for Fulcanelli’s examination of architectural symbolism, Le Mystère des Cathédrales (1926), and is continually rumoured to have been Fulcanelli himself. Whatever the solution to that mystery, the alchemist’s book is rather more visible than the artist’s distinctly Symbolist paintings. There’s a French blog devoted to his life and works here but little else around. I wouldn’t mind seeing a decent online gallery of his pictures at some point.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
Digital alchemy
The art of Pamela Colman Smith, 1878–1951
The art of Andrey Avinoff, 1884–1949
The art of Cameron, 1922–1995
Austin Osman Spare