Dover Book

Text Box with description of Book

    As with so many of these books which make up Dover's huge Pictorial Archive Library, there is often little to no text to explain the artworks found within. My search for Japanese silk mostly yielded commerce sites, and a few with a brief history of silk production in Japan. (Please note: I do not knowingly use, wear or eat animal products, and silk production is especially cruel.) Even Wikipedia's page wasn't that great. Here is another: History of Japanese Silk: The evolution and significance of silk in Japan. But this book is really not about silk, or even Japan. It is a collection compiled by the French artist, Maurice Pillard Verneuil. His Wikipedia page is only five paragraphs. The two paragraphs that make up the introductory Publisher's Note of this volume first explain how international commerce with Japan opened up in the second half of the 1800s, and how European artists were fascinated with their woodblock and silk designs. This led to the development of the Art Nouveau movement in France, and I can plainly see the influence of these works, especially in the subtle and muted colors which focus on creams, rusts, olive greens and other alterations and blends of basic primary hues—a hallmark of the Art Nouveau style. So, it sounds to me like these are not his works, but works he collected. Here is the second paragraph of the Note.

The present volume reproduces, in full color, a selection of sixty plates from M. P. Verneuil's original portfolio Étoffes Japonaises, Tissées & Brochées, first published by the Librairie Centrale des Beaus-Arts in Paris in 1910. An influential teacher of the Art Nouveau decoration, artist M. P. Verneuil (1869-1942) had already made outstanding contributions to the use of design motifs based on plant and animal life. Inspired by the flood of Japanese art to Europe at that time, Verneuil culled a portfolio of stunning examples of authentic Japanese woven and printed fabrics. Taken as a whole, the designs showcased in this book, most of which are based on elegant organic forms, combine the flowing, curvilinear style that became the hallmark of Art Nouveau with an imaginative use of stylized Japanese art.

    In any case, they are lovely designs, and I am a big fan of Art Nouveau style. Here is my Index Page for it, and also my Index Page for Japan. According to the Wikipedia page linked above, Verneuil studied with Eugène Grasset, and I have a CD-ROM and book of his beautiful works called Grasset's Art Nouveau Floral Ornament. Even without having the information I seek, this is still a most enjoyable and fascinating book with gorgeous and unique colors and designs. I had a hard time choosing what to post, and I went through it numerous times, so here's what I ended up with. I wanted to display works that represented the whole, as far as colors and designs. Some pages are one large design, while others are made up of several. Each page includes a short description of the works on that page.

Pages 4, 13

Page 13

Page 4

Pages 18, 23

Page 23

Page 18

Pages 24, 29

Page 29

Page 24

Pages 32, 33

Page 33

Page 32

Pages 36, 38

Page 38

Page 36

Pages 42, 53

Page 53

Page 42

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