Monday, April 30, 2012

The Bookplate Collection

The Ex Libris (bookplate) illustrations below were selected from the first half of the enormous John Starr Stewart Collection at the University of Illinois. Will from 50Watts sampled the back half of the same database: [The Bookplate Collection: Second Half].

ancient-Egypt themed bookplate engraving

George Clulow (undated)
"Against starry sky, bare-breasted Egyptian goddess wearing ankh pendant and holding sheaf and quill; ouroboros (snake with its tail in its mouth) surrounded open book with owner's initials, book press and ink balls. Motto on banner: Lux in tenebris (Light in the shadows)"

stylised 1904 art nouveau ex libris illustration plate
Carolta Campins - bookplate by Joaquim Renart, 1904

"Tree eradicated (showing roots) with shield upon which is a lyre."

fun bookplate engraving with man reading book sitting in a triangle
Denver Athletic Club Library - bookplate by Leota Woy, 1904

"Within triangular space, bald man in waistcoat and checkered pants
reads a book; below, a man runs with football, 'DAC' on his jersey."

19th c. bookplate engraving : folded ribbon in ornate shell border
Henrietta Jane Adeane - bookplate by Harry Soane, 1883
"Printed in black and red. Within a picture frame, a lozenge escutcheon: vert (green) a chevron or (gold) charged with 3 mullets (stars) sable (black), between three griffin's heads erased or (gold). Banner with originator's name"

old bookplate (?18th c.) dove & ribbon banner
Robert Barclay - armorial (undated)
"Crest: a dove with an olive branch in its
mouth, perched on a straight wreath.
Motto: Cedant arma = Let military power give way"

engraved bookplate : ornate striped ribbon border topped by crossed quills
Barry H Jones (undated)

"Oil lamp, crossed quills, decorative border."

bookplate - Prussian eagle, ribbon banner + table with microscope and books
Arthur Wellington Clarke (1898)

**Who Borrow Books and Soon Restore
May Come Again and Borrow More**

"Armorial crowned eagle rising erased, above ledge
with books, scroll, ink pot and quill, microscope"

bookplate: Japanese themed with 3 ladies in traditional Japanese house
Mary Alice Ercolini - bookplate by SE Blake (undated)

"Japanese ukiyo'e scene with three women in a room.
Vignette lower left.
Note: Discolored by collector's glue."

stylised bookplate : clutter of abstracted letter, pictures, books, flowers and ribbon
F Bargallo - bookplate by André Henry(1895)
"Cipher: FB; books, music, portfolio of fashion plates; flower; snake and cup; Motto: Omnis homo mendax = Every man is a liar; In malis venenum, in mediocribus somnus, in egregiis solamen." 

b&w woodcut bookplate dominated by illustration of hanged man + flying bats
Georges Goury - bookplate by Georges Demeufe (undated)
"The motto, "Fert in omnia rutubam et tristitiam terribilis amor" (In all thing terrible love brings trouble and sadness"); depicts a man hanging from a gallows and a night landscape with trees, bats, and a crescent moon."

bookplate of solid blocked colourful illustration including armorial shield
H Danreuther - bookplate by Edmond des Robert
"Coat of arms. Armorial shield Crest: a woodsman holding an uprooted tree (also depicted on shield). Motto: Quantum est quod nescimus (How little we know). Multicolored. The motto was previously used by the Dutch scholar Daniel Heinsius (1580-1655)"

ex libris engraving : owl atop a tree held aloft by human arms
James T Tarbotton - bookplate by C Helard (undated)

"Raised arms hold uprooted oak tree with
owl in upper branch. Portrait bottom right."

Art Nouveau ex libris illustration - theosophical imagery + 2 women in mu-mu style ritual dresses
James Henry Darlington - bookplate by Louis Rhead, 1902

"Two women (Theology and Science) shake hands under symbol of the Holy Spirit"

dark, square-shaped ex libris illustration dominated by eagle head
Count Karl Emich of Leiningen-Westerburg - bookplate by A de Riquer, 1903

"Dramatic depicition of bird's head"

bookplate with stylised 'twee' putti in decorative fantasy setting reading books
Max Harrwitz - bookplate by SB (undated)
"Putto with open book; another putto on
chair of books; central tree with shield and motto.
(Harrwitz was a rare book dealer and publisher in Berlin)"

woodcut silhouette town scene within art nouveau-styled ex libris border/frame
Pio Freixa Aulet - bookplate by José Triadó (undated, ~1905)

"Town in winter landscape; shield with bars and wing."

engraving of home library scene with bookshelf, table, window - bookplate
Robert Hall, 1902
"Interior with wall of books, large reading table with
books (including open illuminated manuscript, chairs;
large window looking out onto building with spire tower."

fun, engraved bookplate scene - man running with book, hand reaching after him
Rudolf Benkard, 1895

Halt! Mein Buch!
Stop! My Book!

"Hand reaches out from cloud to nab a man running past "
a bookshelf with a book (Ex libris album) under his arm.

bookplate engraving : renaissance fellow (John Overholt) in library scene; title in ribbons
William Livermore Kingman - bookplate by David McNeely Stauffer, 1898

**I am but a Gatherer and Disposer of other Men's Stuff**
"Man in renaissance garb, with ruff, sash and sword; behind him, shelves of books, scientific instruments, decanter and glass; on the table, an envelope for prints marked 'Gravures', partially unfurled print marked 'H. Goltzius'; ink pot and quill, globe showing western hemisphere; open book resting on two closed books.
Note - Quote is by Sir Henry Wotton (1568-1639), from the preface to his Elements of Architecture (1624); name on print refers to Hendrik Goltzius (1558-1617)"

'busy' bookplate engraving with floral display, beehive + corner vignettes of books and musical instruments
SA Flint (undated)
"Floral frame with beehive against flint arrowhead in center; spires upper left; musical instruments upper right; books lower left; easel lower right, Motto: Sans hâte, sans repos (Without haste, without rest)"

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

World Designs

African, early Medieval, Greek, ancient Egyptian, Islamic, 
Pacific Island and Tibetan mandala line drawing designs

African design - stylised interlocking B&W worms(?)

detailed African floral roundel design (probably Berber in origin)
African Designs

medieval calligraphic letter 'S' : ornament of stylised animals and acanthus leaves

Early Medieval Celtic knotwork line drawing design
Early Medieval Designs

Greek design

Greek roundel design made of fish & squid with ornamental border
Greek Designs

line drawing of hippopotamus bearing stylised Egyptian floral motifs

Ancient Egyptian fish & stylised floral roundel design
Ancient Egyptian Designs

leaf + curved Islamic line drawing decal/ornament design

Islamic roundel design : stylised pheasant and background line decoration
Islamic designs

Pacific island design sketch of abstract drinking vessel decoration

B&W sketch of Maori tiki symbol (new zealand) - scanned from acetate render
Pacific Island Designs

circular Tibetan Mandala line drawing with shell border

serrated geometric Tibetan mandala line drawing

Tibetan Mandala^ Designs

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Rakusan Woodblock Prints

These illustrations by Tsuchiya Rakusan are (mostly) from a series of 100 large woodblock prints called Rakuzan Kachou Gafu, based on paintings that Rakusan made between 1925 and 1929. They are displayed here with the permission of the Rakusan Project site.

Glossy-leafed Nandina and Brown-eared Bulbuls (Winter)
[Nandina or Heavenly Bamboo, Nandina domestica, 南天 nanten has many varieties and garden cultivars]
"This woodblock print was produced from an original painting on silk dating from the late 1920s[..]

Rakusan [..] published the print as the 1st design in his series of one hundred woodblock prints called 楽山花鳥畫譜 Rakuzan Kachou Gafu, literally:
'Rakusan's Flower and Bird Print Series'."

Male Green Peafowl/Green Peacock (Early Summer)
"In Japan all peafowl are called 孔雀 or マクジャク kujaku regardless of species. Although no peafowl species is native to Japan, two species were long ago imported as exotics and have naturalized in parks and gardens. The species depicted [..] is the Green Peafowl, Pavo muticus, which is usually today distinguished as 真孔雀 or マクジャク ma-kujaku, lit. 'true peafowl' indicating the most commonly encountered species."

Red-leafed Sumac and Japanese Grosbeaks (Winter)
"Sumac (also spelled "Sumach") or Wax Tree Rhus succedanea 櫨 haze is now often labeled as 黄櫨の木 haze-no-ki, lit. 'sumac tree'. The modifier 紅葉 kouyou, lit. 'red-leaf', refers to the color the leaves turn in autumn (as in this illustration) rather than to a variety of the tree. The gray masses hanging amid the leaves are the seed clusters.

Japanese Grosbeak or Masked Hawfinch Eophona personata has many names in Japanese. Today the bird would be called イカル ikaru 'great-beak' (a loan-translation of 'grosbeak') which can be written in kanji as 鵤, 斑鳩 lit. 'pied pigeon', or 桑鳲 lit. 'mulberry pigeon'. From the fancied resemblance of the large bill to a bean the bird may also be called 豆鳥 mame-dori lit. 'bean-bird', or 豆回し mame-mawashi lit. 'bean-turner' (from the way it moves its bill as it eats)."

Wild Chestnut, Fall-dried Japanese Yam Vine and Eurasian Jay (Late Autumn)
"Japanese Yam Dioscorea japonica is the vining plant shown weaving among the chestnut branches. いもづる (芋蔓), imo-zuru, lit. 'tuber-vine' usually refers to cultivated sweet potato vines. [..]

The descriptor 枯 (now usually 枯れ) kare means 'dry, withered, dead (of vegetation)'. いも, (also イモ, 芋, 薯, 藷, 蕷) imo is the general term for any sort of tuber, including taro and the various kinds of potatoes, as well as yams; 蔓, つる, tsuru means 'creeper, vine' which limits the application to the vining sweet potatoes and yams. Today, the native wild Japanese Yam is popularly called ヤマノイモ, やまのいも, 山(の)芋, yama no imo, lit. 'mountain-tuber'.

Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius カケス, かけす, 懸(け)巣, kakesu is native to Japan where it frequently eats nuts and can often be found in nut trees. The name Rakusan used 樫鳥, 橿鳥, カシ ドリ, kashi-dori, lit. 'evergreenoak-bird' is one of several popular variant names playing on the bird's fondness for acorns."

Sand Dune, Sea Bindweed, and Blue Rockthrush (Mid Summer)

Sea Bindweed, Calystegia soldanella, 浜晝顔 (now usually 浜昼顔) hama-hirugao, is a native wildflower of sandy places.

Blue Rockthrush, Monticola solitarius, 磯鵯 or イソヒヨドリ iso-hiyodori (lit. '(rocky)beach-bulbul') is also native to Japan.
"This Rakusan design is unusual in several ways. Most of the original paintings for this series date from the late 1920s, but this one had to have been from a bit later. The evidence for this is that Rakusan adapted the depiction of the bird on the left from an illustration which was not published until the spring of 1930.

The publication of the first volumes of plates and text for 鳥類寫生圖譜 (鳥類写生図譜) Chourui Shasei Zufu (CSZ) (1927-1938) was one of the main influences which inspired Rakusan to create his woodblock print series."

Glory Bower and Red-whiskered Bulbuls (Early Summer)

Bleeding-heart Glory Bower (or Clerodendron), Clerodendrum thomsoniae, 源平臭木 or げんぺいくさぎ (or as here 源平くさぎ) genpeikusagi, is an exotic tropical vine shown here growing on an unidentifiable leafless tree or shrub for support.

Red-whiskered Bulbul, Pycnonotus jocusus, 紅羅雲 or コウラウン (or as here こうらうん) kouraun is not native to Japan, but it is a popular cage and aviary bird worldwide

Re: last 2 images - "Rakusan eventually produced a series of at least 7 small, simple, woodblock prints suitable for use on winter holiday greeting cards. The designs cover a wide variety of styles and subjects, but all include snow. It is not known what Rakusan called this series of designs, so here they have been assigned the name Winter Cards. [..]

It is possible that all of the designs may date to the pre-WWII period 1936-1941, but a few could have first appeared only after the war.Producing these designs required many fewer impressions than Rakusan's typical woodblock prints. Therefore, well into the early 1950s Rakusan was able to reprint many small batches of these designs for sale and for guest gifts."
All the images above are displayed here with the permission of the hosting site: the Rakusan Project, an evolving labour of love by Dr MJP Nichols. There is a large gallery section (modest resolution) and just a few background articles so far. As inferred from the layout above, some, but not all, of the illustrations on the site are accompanied by detailed notes. [there's more to see on the site]
"Rakusan Tsuchiya* [1896-1976] was born in Kyoto and studied art under the great Kyoto artist, Seiho Takeuchi. His detailed and intricately colored woodblock prints were sold by his studio before W.W.II until around 1948. Walter Foster promoted and sold Rakusan's prints in 1950s to the market in USA." [source]
*there are a number of different English spellings of his name

Rakusan Tsuchiya in his Kyoto art studio
(undated, but probably around 1930) via CardCow

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Rhetorica

The illuminated manuscript images below are owned by Fondation Martin Bodmer in the Geneva municipality of Cologny and hosted online through the esteemed Virtual Manuscript Library of Switzerland.

15th c. illuminated non-religios French MS)

73v - Cod. Bodmer 176 (Rhetorica - 1471)

62r - Cod. Bodmer 176 (Rhetorica - 1471)

9r - Cod. Bodmer 176 (Rhetorica - 1471)

41v - Cod. Bodmer 176 (Rhetorica - 1471)

93v - Cod. Bodmer 176 (Rhetorica - 1471)

110v - Cod. Bodmer 176 (Rhetorica - 1471)

113r - Cod. Bodmer 176 (Rhetorica - 1471)

129r - Cod. Bodmer 176 (Rhetorica - 1471)

129v - Cod. Bodmer 176 (Rhetorica - 1471)

176r - Cod. Bodmer 176 (Rhetorica - 1471)

Manuscript letter 'n'

(e-codices Terms of Use)

(All the images above have been cropped slightly)

Guillaume Fichet (1433-?1480) was a leading humanist figure during the French Renaissance. As a lecturer in theology, philosophy and rhetoric, Fichet was awarded a doctorate and professorship and became Rector of the University of Paris (Sorbonne).

Together with an academic colleague, Fichet was responsible for bringing the newly created printing press to Paris for the first time in 1471, where it was installed at the Sorbonne.

It is with some measure of irony that the manuscript seen above from 1471 - essentially a record, in Latin, of 10 years of secular teachings by Fichet on the art of rhetoric - was also among the earliest books to be published by Fichet's printing press in that first year.

The top image above shows this manuscript of Fichet's teachings being presented to a representative from the royal family who sponsored the work, Princess Yolanda of Savoy. A total of four hand-written manuscripts of 'The Rhetoric' were known to have been produced.

There appears to be few details online about the scriptorium origins for the Fondation Martin Bodmer illuminated manuscript version, as seen above. It consists of about 180 parchment folio pages with text by a couple of different hands (at least) in Latin, with beautiful, detailed initials and floriated border and full page decoration, including a few drollery inclusions.

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