The Art Nouveau Book in Britain

By John Russell Taylor




Though the extravagant heyday of the Victorian book and the modern era of the famous private presses have both received detailed study in the last few years, little attention has recently been paid to the vital intervening period of the 1890s and 1900s. This, the time of art nouveau and Arts and Crafts, the time when such presses as William Morris's Vale Press were flourishing and books and magazines were decorated by illustrators like Beardsley, Housman, Arthur Rackham and Jessie M. King, is the subject of John Russel Taylor's authoritative new study.

In it the author traces the rise of the art nouveau movement in Britain, suggesting a number of ways in which definitions of the style based primarily on Continental examples have obscured its true course and nature, and linking it with the development of the closely allied Arts and Crafts movement, with its insistence on the art element in all crafts, notably the crafts of the book as a whole, designed by one man responsible for the choice and disposition of all its elements. The further career of the movement after the 1900s is detailed in a final section showing how it divided into two distinct channels; one, exemplified by the work of artists like Rackham and Dulac, retaining and transforming art nouveau motifs until they found their final expression in the early films of Walt Disney and the short-lived jazz-modern style of the late 1920s; the other dropping the motifs but keeping to the idea of the art nouveau book and producing such great twentieth-century book designers as Eric Gill and Sir Francis Meynell.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262200127 176 pp. |