Rajah, Henri Meunier (1873-1922),  Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon, Public Domain Mark

Introduction

The latter half of the 19th century saw an explosion in all kinds of printed materials: public reading rooms, novels, illustrated journals, caricature, collectable prints and luxury books. The sinuous lines and nature motifs of Art Nouveau featured heavily in book design and exlibris plates produced by many artists. Magazines and journals covering artistic and decorative trends were launched across Europe, including Munich-based Jugend and Ver Sacrum, published by the Vienna Secession. The vanguard of Art Nouveau in St Petersburg was communicated through Mir Iskusstva (World of Art). It provided the earliest international exposure for the Ballets Russes dance company.

Illustration and publishing

Aubrey Beardsley (1872-1898) was a key figure in illustration and publishing, and a significant figure in the Aesthetic movement. Born in Brighton, an English seaside town, he combated the tedium of an office job with drawing and illustration. After encouragement from Edward Burne-Jones, he headed for Paris in 1892. His reputation was established by an illustration of Salome holding the dripping head of John the Baptist. This was published in the first edition of The Studio, a magazine which had an international readership. His erotically-charged pen and ink illustrations typifying fin-de-siècle decadence were also published in Aesthetic quarterly, The Yellow Book. That association ended following the trial and imprisonment of Oscar Wilde in 1895, which affected all those in his circle. Beardsley’s career was tragically short: he died of tuberculosis aged 25.

Isolde, Aubrey Beardsley, Landesbibliothek Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Schwerin, In Copyright
Isolde, Aubrey Beardsley, Landesbibliothek Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Schwerin, In Copyright
Exlibris Franz Anderle, Emil Orlik, Stadtgeschichtliches Museum Leipzig, CC BY-NC-SA
Exlibris Franz Anderle, Emil Orlik, Stadtgeschichtliches Museum Leipzig, CC BY-NC-SA
Flora’s feast, a masque of flowers, Walter Crane, Cassell & Company, Koninklijke Bibliotheek National Library of the Netherlands, In Copyright
Flora’s feast, a masque of flowers, Walter Crane, Cassell & Company, Koninklijke Bibliotheek National Library of the Netherlands, In Copyright

Journals and Magazines

Many magazines and journals covered artistic and decorative trends, but the circulation frontrunner was Jugend. This Munich-based style-setting cultural weekly published by Georg Hirth gave the Jugendstil (youth style) movement its name. Within a slim format (20 pages or less), it covered fashionable clothes, literature and art featuring the work of Hugo Hoppner (Fido), Emil Hansen (Nolde), Ernst Barlach and Peter Behrens. The versatile German artist and illustrator Hans Christiansen (1866-1945) designed many covers with easily distinguishable hand-lettered fonts. Born in Flensburg, Christiansen moved to Paris in 1895 to study at the Académie Julian and was a member of the Darmstadt Artists’ Colony until 1902. As well as graphic work, he designed wallpaper patterns, tapestries, ceramics and glass windows.

Lesende junge Frau, Hans Christiansen, Museumsberg Flensburg Städtische Museen und Sammlungen für den Landesteil Schleswig, Copyright Not Evaluated
Lesende junge Frau, Hans Christiansen, Museumsberg Flensburg Städtische Museen und Sammlungen für den Landesteil Schleswig, Copyright Not Evaluated
The Studio, almanac 1900, Charles Robinson, Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon, Public Domain Mark
The Studio, almanac 1900, Charles Robinson, Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon, Public Domain Mark
Cover page of 'Vesy' 1906 no.3-4, Nikolai Petrovich Feofilaktov, Russian Visual Arts Project: University of Sheffield: University of Exeter, In Copyright
Cover page of 'Vesy' 1906 no.3-4, Nikolai Petrovich Feofilaktov, Russian Visual Arts Project: University of Sheffield: University of Exeter, In Copyright

Posters and advertising

Posters and advertising became a dominant means of mass communication throughout Europe at the end of the 19th century. In France, the belle époque was summed up in the posters of Toulouse-Lautrec and Jules Chéret, and influenced stylistically by Japanese Ukiyo-e woodblock prints. Dazzling colours were produced by the new three-stone lithography process. Advertising was a popular medium for artists, including Italian Leonetto Cappiello, who was the first to use a black background. Dutch painter Jan Toorop (1858-1928), born in Java, worked in many styles and divided his time between many locations. In Brussels, he was member of Les XX, and in England he had links to the Arts & Crafts movement. The play of lines seen in his symbolist paintings found a new form in advertisements.

Rajah, Henri Meunier (1873-1922), Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon, Public Domain Mark
Rajah, Henri Meunier (1873-1922), Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon, Public Domain Mark
Tropon - Cartel, Henry van de Velde, CER.ES: Red Digital de Colecciones de museos de España (Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas) Hispana; Spain, In Copyright
Tropon - Cartel, Henry van de Velde, CER.ES: Red Digital de Colecciones de museos de España (Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas) Hispana; Spain, In Copyright
Delftsche Slaolie, Jan Toorop, Koninklijke Bibliotheek National Library of the Netherlands, Public Domain Mark
Delftsche Slaolie, Jan Toorop, Koninklijke Bibliotheek National Library of the Netherlands, Public Domain Mark