Saturday, December 31, 2005

Image Catharsis

I have no idea where this Abraham Ortelio 1586 map
of the present day Palestine/Israel region comes from.
I've uploaded a large version if you click on the picture.

'Military Habits of the Eighth Century' in:
A Complete View of Dress and Habits of the People of England
by Joseph Strutt 1862. [large selection of plates from this book]

Vanité by Pierre Giffart (sometime around 1700 at a guess)
[Found at the Université de Liège (Belgium) -
Collections Artistiques (Florilège) website
where I enjoyably spent a considerable amount of time.]

Combat entre la lampe au pétrole
et la théière tristesse du sucrier
in L'Opinion (magazine) 1877
[No idea what site it comes from.]

Adriaen Collaert after Marten de Vos
Die vier Weltteile: Afrika - late 16th century.
This comes from the eclectic set of images at the
Ruhr-Universität Bochum exhibition website:
'Allegorische Graphikserien des Manierismus'

"Historia de la vida, hechos y astucias 1769/1781
traditional Don Juan Bartholomé" .. the name this image was saved as on my computer.
I know it comes from a pdf from one of the South American repositories -
if you only knew how much time I spent not finding suitable/sufficient material to make posts on subjects from South America and particularly Asia and Africa....well, anyway - if anyone ever has any suggestions about esoteric and rare book or print image sites or ideas even that pertain to these areas of the world, please don't be shy in passing on the details.

"Küchler, Balthasar"
from one of the festival books at the British Library.

There. A clean desktop for the new year.
Best wishes to all !

The Devil in the Detail

[The top image is the complete work - click on it for a reasonably large sized version - and the images below are details from it]

Jacques Callot (1592-1635) created the above etching - The Temptation of St Anthony - in the last year of his life. It is likely that his previous depiction of St Anthony from 1617 is online (Artcylopedia) but I couldn't find it. In the intervening period there had been a brutal invasion of his native land, the Lorraine Duchy, by the French, which probably influenced the nature of some of the details in this wonderfully grotesque and severe portrayal.

St Anthony lived sometime during the 3rd and 4th centuries and is said to have established the religious practice of ascetism. Legend (recorded by Athanasius) has our hermit Saint beseiged by the devil on a number of occasions, projected in the present circumstances as phantoms of wild beasts, wolves, lions, snakes and scorpions.

It's easy to see where Francisco Goya's predeliction for the fantastical and grotesque derived inspiration.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Festa Teatrale

In 1729, on the occasion of the birth of Louis, Dauphin son of King Louis XV, a 3-Act opera about Emperor Charlemagne was written and staged in Rome by way of celebration.

The libretto for Festa Teatrale was written by the wealthy arts patron and future Pope Alexander VIII, Cardinal Ottoboni. Roman composer (and typesetter) Giovanni Battista Costanzi (aka 'Violoncello') provided the musical score for the production and the set designs were by the noted architect, Nicola Michetti.

14 full-page etchings by F. Vasconi, B. Gabuggiani, P. Piloia, C. Grandi and G. Massi were based on Michetti's stage sets.

The Festival book, Carlo Magno : festa teatrale in occasione della nascita del Delfino : offerta alle sacre reali maestà cristianissime del Re, e Regina di Francia is only available online in pdf format - photocopy of the digitized work - at the University of London Research Library Services (Warburg Institute) website [click on 'festivals' and then the bottom link on the resulting page to go to the information page {it has a timeout setup}] or [pdf - direct download 10Mb]

This short piece (translation) is about the best source of information on the Festa Teatrale book

Meggendorfer Whimsy : Pop-Ups & Sketchbook

Lothar Meggendorfer (1847-1925) grew up in Munich as the youngest of 25 children (2 marriages) . He originallly worked as an illustrator for the satirical magazines Fliegende Blätter and Münchener Bilderbogen but eventually founded the long running Meggendorfer Blätter. He would also illustrate more than 100 children's books.

He is best known however for the ingenious movable (pop-up or toy) books which he took to a new level of sophisticated construction. His first effort, Lebende Bilder was a Christmas gift for his own son but was eventually published in 1878. His books included tab movement, stand-up panoramas and revolving plates, but for all their mechanical complexity his work always displayed comedic situations. Needless to say these new and amazing books were enthusiastically received by the general public. Perhaps it was such enthusiasm that prompted him to add a verse to one of his publications telling children to treat his movable books gently.

There are many websites around with material by Meggendorfer. I had been looking at the book with the Punchinello-like image above when I started searching. I have to say that I was thoroughly enchanted by his original sketchbook. Whimsical scribbles, penetrating caricatures and test book sketches brought not only a smile to my face but had me wondering if and where the matured illustration(s) might be found. I was also turning pages expectantly, hoping that one of the little characters such as the piano player above would reappear (as it did) again and again. Maybe it's the holiday season that has me more than usually appreciative of Meggendorf's benign but insightful humour. He seems like somebody I would love to have met.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Biblia Sacra of 'Petit' Bernard Salomon

"Perhaps no name is more intimately associated with the renaissance of French book illustration than that of Bernard Salomon, foremost designer for the publisher Jean de Tournes of Lyon. Working for de Tournes, Salomon's works intersect with the intellectual, religious and cultural concerns of mid-16th-century France."
The Tower of Babel

The 2nd Plague - Frogs infest Egypt

Pairs of animals are gathered into Noah's ark

Jonah is spat (out) of the whale
"The hundreds of illustrations to the Old and New Testaments ... among many other works Salomon designed, initiate new iconographic and stylistic traditions by recasting earlier formulations into a new, popular, yet elegant idiom."

The handwriting on the wall

Daniel is thrown into the lion's den

Gideon (Jerubbaal) routs the Midianites

The above woodcut images are from the Old Testament and are among 198 illustrations contributed by Bernard Salomon to the 1558 version of the Biblia Sacra that are displayed on the Vivarium website - the online digital collections of St John's University and the College of St Benedict. (20 pages of thumbnails)

The 'Petit' refers to the intricate detail Salomon works into his designs at small scale. Although it seems difficult to identify all the book images that he produced in that he didn't sign his work and much of it was reworking of older illustrations or was itself reproduced by other woodcut artists, Salomon contributed woodcuts for Alciato's famed Emblemata* and designed the images for a mid-16th century book on Ovid's Metamorphosis among other things. [*Most likely this will have been in one of the large number of republications that followed the 1531/1534 originals - certainly Salomon was a leading emblem book illustrator]

The quotes above come from an unfinished PhD dissertation - The woodcuts and art of Bernard Salomon - begun 40 or so years ago (!) by Robert A. Baron who has posted his 'work in progress' online.

Picturing Women

Does it matter who is looking?

Who decides what is feminine?

Who is telling the story?

Is beauty skindeep?

JN Gimbrede engraver after JJ Grandville
'Marvel of Peru' in 'The Flowers Personified' 1847

No paint, nor powder, needs that skin of thine
Shroud not the beauty in goods of cost,
For only know, my beaut'ous Valentine,
Beauty, when unadorned's adorned the most.

Carl E. Miksch, M.D. Jefferson Medical College Faculty of 1923

Franz Hanfstaeng after Joseph Stieler
mezzotint before 1858
August Strobel. Kgl. Residenz zu München No. 12

'Tricycle Dress' in The Exhibition of the Rational Dress Association 1883

From an exhibition held last year at Bryn Mawr College, the Picturing Women website was established to display sketches, cartoons, photographs and rare book illustrations of women through history. It is primarily a teaching aid in which evocative questions are posted alongside images arranged in thematic vignettes. There are filmed sequences from interviews and performances occurring during the original exhibition, an extensive online link list and library bibliography, ecards and lesson plans. There's quite a bit to see here.

Picturing Women features material from Bryn Mawr College, the Rosenbach Museum & Libary and The Library Company of Philadelphia. (flash, music initially)

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Skottowe Manuscript

Black & White (sulphur-crested) Cockatoos
"The birds are very numerous and in their wild
state their note is of a most discordant nature.
The white bird however when tame can be learn'd to talk. I
have never seen a black one alive in the possession of anyone."
[I attest to both observations: they are very noisy
and the black ones are reasonably rare]

John Dory
[good eating!]

Mamura superba

"There are however in this part of the world,
a great number, most of which possess some
remarkable and beautiful tints and I shall ever
regret that the part where I was station'd at
was so extremely barren of subjects."

Macleay's swallowtail butterfly

"Thomas Skottowe of the 73 (Highland) Regiment of Foot was Commandant of the Newcastle penal settlement from 1811 to 1814. While in Newcastle, Skottowe organised the collection and drawing of specimens for this manuscript. He was also was responsible for their arrangement and wrote the accompanying text."

Select Specimens From Nature of the Birds Animals &c of New South Wales Collected and Arranged by Thomas Skottowe Esqr. The Drawings By T. R. Browne. Newcastle, New South Wales, 1813 is online at the State Library of NSW via the Picman database.

Kevin Hauff

Illustrations © Kevin Hauff (3 galleries - quite slow loading)

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Physiognomy of Trade

de l'Armessin - Miller

de l'Armessin - Fireworks Tradesman

de l'Armessin - Labourer

Engelbrecht - Hattier

Madeley - Musician

Madeley - Entomologist (all background artifact removed)

My understanding is that Italian painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo created a genre by representing the human form with inanimate objects in the 16th century - some of which included tradesmen.

At the end of the 17th century Nicolas de l'Armessin (one of them: there were a few artisans by that name) engraved a series of plates - Costumes Grotesques - in which tradesmen and their occupations were depicted with the tools of their trade as body parts.

In 1730 Martin Engelbrecht released his series of similar figures to de l'Armessin (Assemblage nouveau des manouvries habilles).

During the 19th century when the idea of physiognomy - judging characters by their physical appearance (eg. phrenology) - had its greatest following, English lithographic artists GE Madeley and G Spratt released another series (itself after Cooke's 'Implemental Characters') of occupation prints. The pseudo-anthropomorphic illustrations were issued just prior to the Victorian industrial period when satirical presentation of the 'machine-age' was common.

Originally I came across an interesting engraving by Engelbrecht which sent me searching and reintroduced me to the fantastical images by de l'Armessin, one of which was included among the antique glasses engravings link I posted a couple of weeks ago. I had seen some of them before but had resisted posting until now because most of the online images were posters with gaudy colouring. I much prefer the black and white illustrations of the set posted above.

Creative Commons License