Album de la décoration


Plates from a selection of art nouveau-styled prints for the use of artists and craftsmen. There’s more in this incomplete Flickr set; a little searching turns up further examples but the Flickr ones are the highest quality. The Four Seasons were featured here several years ago in a post about illustrator Patten Wilson. The bat-obsessed Robert de Montesquiou would no doubt have approved of the unusual conjunction of a chauve-souris with the favourite fowl of the fin de siècle.



Previously on { feuilleton }
The Grammar of Ornament revisited
Dekorative Vorbilder
Combinaisons Ornementales
Charles J Strong’s Book of Designs
Styles of Ornament
The Grammar of Ornament by Owen Jones

John Batten’s Book of Wonder Voyages


The book illustrations of John Dickson Batten (1860–1932) turn up in collections of Victorian and Edwardian art but his name isn’t as familiar as that of his contemporaries, possibly because he was also pursuing a career as a painter. Prior to finding this volume I’d only seen a couple of his drawings before.

The Book of Wonder Voyages (1919) was one of several collaborations with writer Joseph Jacobs, a retelling of mythic seafaring which includes Jason and the Argonauts but surprisingly omits other well-known examples such as Odysseus and Sinbad. In their stead we have The Voyage of Maelduin, Hasan of Bassorah, and The Journeyings of Thorkill and Eric the Far-Travelled. Batten’s drawings remind me of Patten Wilson, especially in the full pages, although Wilson was the more dedicated stylist. This isn’t necessarily the best of Batten’s work, however. Browse the rest of the book here or download it here. There’ll be more Batten tomorrow.




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The Story of Rustem and Other Persian Hero Tales


This edition of Elizabeth D. Renninger’s retelling of Persian folk tales dates from 1909, the tales in question being adapted for children from the epic poetry of Hakim Abu’l-Qasim Ferdowsi Tusi, aka Ferdowsi or Firdusi as he’s credited here. Names translated from Persian or Arabic often vary from one book to the next, and that’s the case in this volume with the heroic figure of Rostam (or Rustam) being rendered as Rustem. Likewise in the story of albino warrior Zal, the great bird he encounters, here named the Simurgh, can also be found written as Simorgh, Simurg or Simoorg which often makes searching for information about these stories (or their illustrators) difficult.

The illustrations are by JLS Williams, and it’s a shame there aren’t more of them since I like the bold style and heavy blacks. Williams is listed mostly for his magazine illustration so I can’t say whether he did any other book work. The Story of Rustem may be read online here or downloaded here. Rustem doesn’t meet the Simurgh in this collection but he did in this splendid drawing by Patten Wilson.




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Joseph Noel Paton’s Ancient Mariner


From Patten Wilson to Joseph Noel Paton (1821–1901), a Scottish artist whose illustrations for Coleridge’s poem I much prefer to his generic paintings. Other artists often skimp on the ship details but Paton’s crowded deck scenes are done with such accuracy they must have been based on a real vessel. The book was published in 1893, and the plates would appear to be engravings given the presence of another monogram besides that of the artist. The Internet Archive scans aren’t as bad as the Patten Wilson but Paton’s meticulous draughtsmanship is best seen in the near-complete set of images posted at Golden Age Comic Book Stories. And for anyone familiar with my comic strip adaptation of Lovecraft’s The Haunter of the Dark, the portrait of Enoch Bowen, founder of the Starry Wisdom cult, was based on Paton’s head of the Ancient Mariner in the scene where the sailors are fastening the albatross around the accursed man’s neck.



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Patten Wilson’s illustrated Coleridge


As is evident by the blurred date on the title page, this illustrated Coleridge by Patten Wilson (1868–1928) was published in 1898. Once again, some of these drawings have appeared here before via copies at Chris Mullen’s Visual Telling of Stories where the scans are a lot better quality than the dreadful job done by Google at the Internet Archive. The drawings look passable when reduced in size but the full-size images are so aggressively compressed that much of Wilson’s fine detail is lost. There’s still very little of Wilson’s beautiful work to be found online—and Coleridge’s poetry is freely available everywhere—so the only reason to look at this particular edition is for the illustrations.

As with Gerald Metcalfe’s volume, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner dominates the collection. I love the way Wilson renders the opening scene by placing the Mariner and the wedding guests in the corner of the picture so he can prefigure the tale with the boats waiting in the harbour. And Kubla Khan’s Pleasure Dome is a lot more impressive than Metcalfe’s city in the clouds. Here’s hoping that a better copy turns up eventually.



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