I don’t use bookplates, and don’t know anyone who does, but the conjunction between art and literature is a fascinating one. Exlibris (Bucheignerzeichen) (1909) by Walter von Zur Westen explores the history of the bookplate, and would no doubt answer some of my questions about the form if it wasn’t in German throughout, and also typeset in the semi-legible Fraktur style that used to be de rigueur for all German texts.
We still have the illustrations, however, and these range from woodcut engravings to contemporary works in pencil and ink, with many of the later contributions being from established artists whose names are familiar today; among the examples below are works by Symbolists Max Klinger, Fernand Khnopff and Felicien Rops. There’s also an especially fine example by Charles Ricketts. The latter are a reminder that bookplate commissions were a common thing for 19th-century artists, although their efforts are seldom seen outside collections such as this. Much of Zur Westen’s history is devoted to the German regions but later chapters cover other European countries and the United States.
Continue reading “Exlibris (Bucheignerzeichen)”
In a post from November last year I expressed a hope that the Internet Archive might add more of the design source books in the Quelle series to its collection. Fast forward a few months and here’s another of the books, this time showcasing the work of Carl Otto Czeschka (1878–1960). As with the Max Benirschke volume, the Czeschka book is a collection of graphics for use by artists, designers and printers. Where Benirschke presented pages of decorative motifs in the Art Nouveau style, Czeschka’s work is more illustrational, and more limited in its use, with some of the pieces intended to function as ex libris plates or menu headers. Considering that these designs were meant to have a general application there’s a surprising quantity of beetles and skeletons/skulls in Czeschka’s drawings; he even manages to put a skull into a drawing of that fin-de-siècle staple, the peacock feather. Browse or download the book here.
Continue reading “Allerlei Gedanken in Vignettenform”
A recent arrival at the Internet Archive was this collection of Art Nouveau book decorations by Max Benirschke (1880–1961). Very welcome it is too, although I wish it had been accompanied by its companion volumes from Koloman Moser and Carl Otto Czeschka. The three books formed a series, Die Quelle (The Source), a Viennese equivalent of the design books produced by Alphonse Mucha and others in France. Both the Benirschke and Moser books have been available from Dover Publications at one time or another but the Benirschke one seems now to be out of print. There’s more about Die Quelle and its artists (plus related subjects) at the excellent Vienna Secession. Benirschke’s book may be browsed and downloaded here.
Continue reading “Buchschmuck und Flächenmuster by Max Benirschke”
A few plates by Koloman Moser from Allegorien: Neue Folge (1896), a collection of allegorical drawings, graphics and emblems by a number of artists in Moser’s circle, including Gustav Klimt, Franz Stuck and Carl Otto Czeschka. I keep hoping someone might upload a complete set of these plates but this doesn’t seem to have happened yet. Publisher and editor Martin Gerlach later commissioned Die Quelle (1901), a book of patterns and designs by Moser, several of which prefigure the tessellations of MC Escher.
Continue reading “Moser’s Allegories”
Not all the bookplates here are German, the selection includes examples from Franz von Bayros and Walter Crane. The plates are from the 1907 proceedings of the Ex Libris Association of Berlin. I’d not seen anything by Mathilde Ade before but a quick search reveals her to have been a prolific bookplate illustrator. There’s more of her work here (and that blog is also worth a browse).
Continue reading “Berlin bookplates”