Friday, April 29, 2011

Arabesque Designs

Plates (most) designed by Etienne de Lavallée-Poussin for a posthumous publication: 'Nouvelle Collection d'Arabesques, Propres à la Décoration des Appartemens' 1810. (New collection of arabesques, suitable for decorating apartments. [book]

The arabesque is a type of curvilinear decoration in painting, prints and metalwork etc, with intricate intertwining leaf, flower, animal, or geometrical designs. Rather than having Islamic origins, common usage refers to the flowing abstracted acanthus leaf scroll ornament that began to appear during the Renaissance, inspired by Greek and Roman art works.

Nouvelle collection d'arabesques, 1810 l

Nouvelle collection d'arabesques, 1810

Nouvelle collection d'arabesques, 1810 f

Nouvelle collection d'arabesques, 1810 g

Nouvelle collection d'arabesques, 1810 h

Nouvelle collection d'arabesques, 1810 c

Nouvelle collection d'arabesques, 1810 a

Nouvelle collection d'arabesques, 1810 d

Nouvelle collection d'arabesques, 1810 b

Nouvelle collection d'arabesques, 1810 i

Nouvelle collection d'arabesques, 1810 e

Nouvelle collection d'arabesques, 1810 j

Nouvelle collection d'arabesques, 1810 k

[click through to enlarged versions; all illustrations were cropped from the
full page and have been variously spot-cleaned in the background]

Etienne de Lavallée-Poussin (1735 - 1802) was a French interior decoration designer, printmaker and artist who spent many years honing his artistic craft in Rome.

The decorative forms seen above were first produced in the 1780s, inspired by classical sources: the antiquities of Herculaneum, the grotesques of Raphael, and the designs on ancient Roman palaces and villas.

Lavallée-Poussin contributed the great majority of designs to the book, although Guyot's 1810 engravings (hand-coloured) also feature compositions by Voisin, Le Clerc, Berthelot, de Claire, and Janneret.

'Nouvelle Collection d'Arabesques, Propres à la Décoration des Appartemens' (1810) by E de Lavallée-Poussin and Marie Alexandre Lenoir [introduction] has recently been digitised and posted online by the University of Heidelberg. {click anything below 'Inhalt' and then 'Vorschau' for thumbnail pages.

It's hard to tell from the very brief mentions of this volume online, but the Heidelberg copy seems to be missing at least a few designs (by Janneret) that show the arabesques in situ as architectural motifs in apartments.


Leonard Greco said...

stunning, thank you

JacopKane said...

These're beatiful.
But i couldn't be sure about "arabesque" title as you noticed in your post "...Rather than having Islamic origins..." . Interesting.

peacay said...

You're quite right and observant to note the language used. Obviously I have skipped past this and I didn't provide links. I wasn't overly enthusiastic about the wikipedia articles but the language used relates to the 2 different forms of 'arabesque' that can be seen on the disambiguation page. If it seems like I'm mischaracterising or appearing to be flippant at all (arabesque ===> Islamic), it was inadvertent due to lack of time and also because I favour curt accuracy over long explanations (especially when I'm relying on sources that are not me!).

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