With Yuletide cheer we are featuring a selection of nineteenth and twentieth century illuminated manuscripts. It was during the febrile 1800s that an appreciation of Gothic design and the artistry of the Middle Ages came to full fruition, and both professional artists and gifted amateurs strove to capture the beauty of illumination in books and other artwork. Also, the new form of color printing known as chromolithography was especially well-suited to recreating the richness of the ancient art form.
Our fair schedule resumes in the New Year with the San Francisco Antiquarian Print & Paper Fair on February 1st and 2nd at the Fort Mason Center and the California International Antiquarian Book Fair beginning the following Thursday in Pasadena. More details will follow.
Title Album Incorporating Chromolithographic Cards and Die-Cuts into Fabulous Watercolored and Inked Illustrations
Book Condition Very Good Plus
Seller ID 001980
N.d., circa 1880s. Forty leaves with fabulous mixed media illustrations in which printed chromolithographic material is creatively incorporated into original watercolor and ink illustrations. The far greater part overall is the original artwork, all done by a highly skilled hand possessed by E.M.E., whose wild imagination is evident both in how the pasted material was seamlessly worked in and in the artwork that was entirely her (or his) own. Each leaf is 14 by 11 inches, or 36 by 26 cm, and of a stiff and sturdy card stock, with art is entirely on the recto side, with the backs kept blank, and they are bound in the album with tabs. The identity of E.M.E. is unknown, but he/she was surely English, and there can be no question all of the work was done by one hand. Not only is every leaf initialed, but there is a flow to the album, and that too adds to its inimitable charm. The first leaf depicts an artist's easel, with pixies working busily away to set things up, and E.M.E.'s initials are traced in floral decorated swirls in the sky beyond. We are treated, as we proceed through the album, to all kinds of creatures, animal, impish, exotic. We travel to the Italian Lakes, Japan, the English and Scottish countryside, the coast, Holland, the eighteenth century, etc. Images are meant to delight at times with their humor, at other times their element of surprise, or their sheer beauty. All kinds of characters and animals appear in the illustrations, but the pixies and nymphs prance flit through the entire work, although not in every illustration by any means. Finally, the last leaf is captioned "Bon Soir, Au Revoir", meaning the album has come to its end. Surely E.M.E. drew inspiration from printed imagery and even emulated what he might have seen, but that does not negate from his contribution in the least. And to us it offers a special time capsule to the interests and tastes of the era as telling as a tome on cultural history. The blindstamped cloth binding has wear but remains solid. The leaves are generally clean and attractive.