Books on Textile History and Culture

This is my final post on reviewing the books in my craft library and it covers the history of textiles; the regional variations throughout the world; and a few specialist books on particular areas (South-East and Central Asia); the spiritual aspects of textiles; and special time periods (Arts and Crafts Textiles). Firstly, two excellent general books on textile history!

Women’s Work: The First 20, 000 Years: Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times by Elizabeth Wayland Barber 1994

A fascinating book, looking at the history of textiles and the important role of women in its production from the Upper Paleolithic world (40 000 BC to 10 000BC, 5000 BC in some places) through the Neolithic Era; and the Bronze, Copper and Iron Ages to Ancient Egypt and Greece up to 500 BC.

While most textiles are highly perishable, knowledge has been gained from :

Archaeological discoveries:

eg Fossilized string found in Lascaux, France dated to 15 000 BC; and a needle netted linen bag with a stone button from Israel dated 6500 BC, thought to be a ceremonial hat and the world’s oldest preserved clothing;

eg Golden and silver spindles found in Early Bronze Age burial sites  at Alaca Höyük, Central Turkey);

Depictions on ancient artefacts, paintings and pottery:

eg Voluptuous stone Venus figurines wearing string skirts 20 000 years old;  Assyrian clay tablets from 2000 BC in Mesopotamia, recording accounts and letters of entrepreneurial women with their own weaving businesses; Tomb friezes from the Middle Kingdom of Egypt ( 2150 -1800 BC) showing men spinning cord and laundering and women spinning thread and weaving; and the depiction of women weaving together on a warp-weighted loom on a Greek vase from 560 BC, depicted on the book cover);

References in mythology, folk tales and literature:

eg Homer’s Iliad, which describes Hera’s girdle, fashioned with a hundred tassels, and Aphrodite’s special girdle);

Ethnological evidence from traditionally produced textiles and folk costumes:

eg  Mordvin, Walachin, Macedonian and Albanian peasant aprons and skirts; and

 Documented history.

It examines the Neolithic string revolution (snares, nets and cloth); the development of spinning and weaving; the creation of clothing without cutting and wasting precious cloth (togas, chitons, tunics, plaid skirts); the use of textiles as royal gift exchanges; technological developments like the loom; the changing roles of women through history; and everyday life in ancient societies.BlogTextile History40%IMG_0048

5000 Years of Textiles Edited by Jennifer Harris 1993/ 2004

Far less ambitious in scope, covering only 5000 years as opposed to 20 000 years of textile history, this comprehensive book was written by 24 experts in their specialist textile fields and produced by the British Museum Press, in association with the Whitworth Gallery and The Victoria and Albert Museum, showcasing many historical textile items (from the ancient world through to the modern day) in their respective collections.

The introduction discusses the perishability of textiles; early archaeological textile finds from Ancient Egyptian burial tombs (Pharaonic plain linen; Romano-Egyptian decorated wool and linen up to 12 AD; and imported Persian and Syrian silks); felts from the frozen tombs of Central Asian nomadic chieftains; and the clothing of Scandinavian bog bodies; ancient trading routes and their influence on textile design; and the role and function of textiles in society (social rank and status; gender; family lineage and clan identity; symbolism; diplomacy and royal patronage; major life events-births, weddings and funerals; and social, economic and religious functions).

The book is divided into sections:

Survey of the main textile techniques: Weaving; Tapestry; Rug Weaving; Embroidery; Lace making; Dyeing and Printing; Knitting; Netting, Knitting and Crochet; and Felt and Bark Cloth.

Each section describes the history of the technique, the main tools and technological advances, and basic components and techniques and are illustrated by photographs of many historical textiles; production tools and artisans in action; depictions on ancient vases and in ancient manuscripts and paintings; and explanatory diagrams.

Survey of World Textiles:

Ancient World of the Eastern Mediterranean: Fibres and dyes; the earliest textiles and early trade; Ancient Egypt, the Hellenistic Kingdoms of Classical Greece; the Ancient Roman period and Coptic textiles;

Central and Northern Europe: the Stone, Bronze and Iron Age, and the Vikings;

Western Europe: Sicilian and Italian silks (1300 to 1900); Spanish silks (712 AD to early 18th century); French silks (1650 to 1800); Figured linen damasks of the Netherlands (16th to 18th centuries); Tapestry, embroidery, lace and printed textiles;

Central and Eastern Europe (1800-1920);

Greece, the Greek Islands and Albania;

Near and Middle East: Sassanian textiles (Persia); Early Islamic textiles; Byzantine silks; Safavid Iran; the Ottoman Empire; and Palestinian embroidery;

Central Asia : Turkmenistan; Uzbekistan; Tadzhikistan; Kirghizia; Kazakhstan; North-Eastern Iran and Northern Afghanistan;

India and Pakistan and the tribal textiles of Central India;

Carpets of the Middle and Far East;

Far East: China, Japan and South East Asia (Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, the Hill tribes, the Philippines, and Indonesia and Malaysia);

The Americas: Colonial North America (1700s to 1990s); Native North America; Latin America (Pre-Hispanic textiles of Meso-America and South America; Post-conquest and contemporary textiles in Central and South America: Mexico, Guatemala; the Cuna Indians of Panama and South America;

Africa:

North Africa: gold and silk embroidery, wool embroidery, appliqué and weaving; and

Sub-Saharan Africa and offshore islands: West Africa, the equatorial forest, Eastern Africa and Madagascar.

There is a glossary of textile terms and an extensive bibliography at the back of the book for further reading. This is indeed a wonderful summary of world textiles and the only area, which was not covered in great detail was Oceania, although there was brief mention of tapa cloth, made from the bark of the paper mulberry tree in the ‘Felt and Bark Cloth’ chapter of the first section.

Extensively researched, it is quite a scholarly and academic book, whereas the next few books are more a pictorial feast!BlogTextile History40%IMG_0049Textiles: A World Tour: Discovering Traditional Fabrics and Patterns by Catherine Legrand 2008/2012

Illustrated with over 700 wonderful colour photographs of ethnic costumes, sumptuous fabric and tribal people from all over the world, this beautiful book is divided into six main areas:

Vietnam, Laos and Thailand, South-East Asia: Hmong tunics and the skirt of 1000 pleats; indigo blues and batik; embroidery and appliqué; tassels and pompoms; trimmings and ornaments; and baskets and bags;

Orissa, Rajastan and Gujarat, India: Cotton saris; block printing; mud and indigo; mirrorwork embroidery; saris, veils and turbans; jewellery and henna;

Mexico and Guatemala, Central America: Indigo; Mayan skirts; Jaspe; shawls, bundles and bags, wool; Huipil flowers and stripes; green Ixil women; traditional mens’ clothing and Lake Atitlán;

Kuna Archipelago, Panama, Central America: Mola and reverse appliqué;

Maramures and Bukovina, Romania: Peasant blouses; haymaking, spinning and felting; and seasonal activities; and

Benin, West Africa: Indigo and cotton; stars, spots and stripes; wax prints and fancy prints.

This is a fabulous book, not just for textile collectors and historians, but also for travellers, who are interested in remote locations off the beaten track and serves as a wonderful source of inspiration for textile and fashion designers. It is also a wonderful photographic record of cultural differences and practices in a rapidly shrinking and increasingly global world.

I adored the skirt of a thousand pleats, worn by the Flowered Hmong- in fact, it was one of the lusted after-purchases I was talked out of on my first trip to Europe in early married life, which I have always regretted, but which taught me a valuable lesson in sticking to my guns if I really wanted something!!!

I also loved the colourful harlequin appliqué of the Lolo, Vietnam; the Hmong reverse appliqué spiral patterns;  huipil floral embroidery;  the reverse appliqué ‘mola’ of the Kuna women in Panama; and the frilled Romanian peasant blouses and smocks, as well as their wonderful floral embroidery.

All the different styles of ethnic clothing are just so interesting, especially the symbolism behind them and I loved reading about all the processes involved with the production of traditional textiles from harvesting, weaving and garment assembly to dyeing (batik, indigo, block printing, silkscreen, tie-dyeing), embroidery and appliqué.

I learnt about breeding silkworms for silk production, Ikat weaving; the different techniques throughout the world for dyeing with indigo; the huge variation in the symbolic meanings of textiles and a huge number of different ethnic groups, which were new to me like the Ixil women of the Acul region of Guatemala, near Nebaj.

I would love to have written this book and visited all the wonderful locations and peoples! I cannot recommend this gorgeous book highly enough!BlogTextile History40%IMG_0050Another wonderful guide to world textiles is the not surprisingly and very appropriately-titled:

World Textiles: A Visual Guide to Traditional Techniques by John Gillow and Bryan Sentence 1999

It has a different format and approach to the previous book, focusing more on the different types of textiles and techniques rather than their geographical area, making it an excellent companion, which adds to our knowledge of textile history and production.  The display of fabrics from many different areas side by side serves as a basis for comparison and furthering a greater understanding of the techniques involved and an increased awareness of the diversity in stylistic interpretations. Like the previous book, it is also lavishly illustrated with over 778 illustrations, 551 in colour and explanatory diagrams.

The introduction defines textiles and discusses their history, the first fabrics, textile decoration, spinning yarn and traditional textiles.

Chapters include:

Materials: Skin and hide; wool and hair; felt; woollen yarn; cotton; silk; bark; linen; other bast fibres like hibiscus, jute, nettle, ramie, milkweed and hemp; raphia and other leaf fibres like palms, yuccas, agave, rice straw and grass, as well as their function, purpose and use and their production and techniques.

Non-Loom Textiles: Netting, linking and looping; knitting and crochet, including textured and multi-coloured knitting; braids; sprang; macramé; ply-splitting; lace (bobbin and needle lace and tatting); and twining and wrapping;

Loom-Woven Textiles: Tabby weave; twill and tartan; satin weave; tapestry weave; warp-faced and weft-faced weave; damask; supplementary warps and wefts (continuous and discontinuous); brocade; strip weave; double weave; velvet, velveteen, corduroy and other pile cloths; and tablet weaving. I found this chapter particularly interesting and informative, as I have always been a bit mystified by all the different types of woven techniques and did not know much about damask, brocade or velvet production;

Painted and Printed Textiles: Daubed textiles (mud, earth pigments and leaf paints); painted textiles; penwork; woodblock printing (monochrome and polychrome); and stencilling;

Dyes: Substansive and adjective dyes; natural and synthetic aniline dyes; indigo; tie-dye; stitched resist; Rajasthani leheria and mothara; starch-resist (hand and stencilled); wax resist (Chinese knife; Javanese batik canting; and cap printing); mordant techniques (Central Asian woodblock printing; Kalamkari; and Ajrakh); warp and weft Ikat; and compound and double Ikat;

Sewing: Appliqué and reverse appliqué; molas; leather and felt appliqué; braid and ribbon work; patchwork; quilting; padded and stuffed work (stumpwork; Native American whimsies and kalagas from Myanmar);

Embroidery: All the different stitches and their techniques, uses, distribution and variations and styles: Running stitch; satin and surface satin stitches; chain stitch and variations; cross stitch; herringbone stitch; couching and Bokhara couching; blanket, buttonhole and eyelet stitch, French and Pekin knots; drawn-thread and pulled-thread work; needle weaving; whitework; needlepoint; smocking; and tambour work; and finally,

Embellishment and its role and use in social identity; magic and superstition and even just for ornamentation and vanity: Metal thread; mirrors; coins and sequins; shells; bead embroidery and bead weaving; feathers; porcupine quills; ephemera (natural objects including flowers, seeds and insect wings; and magical protection); and fringes and tassels.

There is just so much information in this book and the authors have done a stirling job organising it and making it all comprehensible.

In the back is a glossary of textile terms; lists of further reading on materials; techniques; history and world textiles; and a list of museums and collections, a wonderful source of further knowledge and inspiration! Another book I could not do without!BlogTextile History30%IMG_0051Another interesting book in my craft library, with more personal stories of craftswomen in developing countries is:

In Her Hands: Craftswomen Changing The World by Paola Gianturco and Toby Tuttle 2000

Written in their individual voices and featuring 90 indigenous craftswomen in 28 villages in 12 different countries over four continents, this book examines their daily lives, aspirations, families and communities, craft cooperatives and use of craft to create better futures for themselves and future generations. Along the way, we learn more about their cultures and their different craft and textile traditions and techniques. The text is supported by wonderful photos of the craftswomen and their families;  their villages and environment; and their work and crafts.

Chapters are divided into:

Latin America: Bolivia (knitting); Guatemala (weaving); Peru (pottery and arpillera); and Panama molas;

Eastern Europe: Poland (Flower painting); and Czech Republic (Easter egg painting);

Africa: South Africa (Ndebele beadwork and Zulu basket weaving); and Zimbabwe (Weya artists); and

Asia: Turkey (dollmaking and rug weaving); Indonesia (Floral offerings and batik); Thailand (Hill tribe craftswomen and AIDS project); and India (mirror embroidery).

In the back are suggestions for ways in which the reader can help support and enhance the craftswomen’s efforts to improve their lives.BlogTextile History30%IMG_0047

Next are a few books on the textiles of specific regions, including Central and South-East Asia, both notable for their beautiful textiles.BlogTextile History30%IMG_0044

I have already featured Bright Flowers: Textiles and Ceramics of Central Asia by Christina Sumner and Guy Petherbridge 2004 in my post on traditional embroidery (https://candeloblooms.com/2018/08/21/books-on-hand-embroidery-part-three-traditional-and-contemporary-embroidery/), but another excellent book on the same region is:

Traditional Textiles of Central Asia by Janet Harvey 1996

I have always been fascinated by the history and romance of the Silk Road and the interchange of goods, ideas, peoples and religions between the east and the west along its varying routes and times.

Central Asia covers a large proportion of this area from the Danube River to the Pacific shores, bordered on the north by the forested taiga and to the south by the high plateaux running from the Balkans to Tibet and the Chinese plains. From the first millennium BC to the 4th century AD, luxury goods like spices, gems and silks were transported from the Far East to the  west and were exchanged for fine muslins, woollens and glass from India and Europe to China.

Beautifully coloured silks, fragments of rich tapestry work, embroidery, pile carpets and coarse fabrics in felts and wools over 2000 years old were found in ancient burial sites in the Tarim Basin by Sir Aurel Stein in the early 20th century.

I adore the colourful Kyrgyz shyrdaks (patchwork appliqué felt floor rug) used by Central Asian nomads to furnish their yurts, in fact they formed the basis of my first year major project in my Diploma of Textile Art. (https://candeloblooms.com/2018/07/17/fabulous-felting-books/).

The simplicity and compactness of living in a yurt and the light environmental footprint and interest of travel and different home grounds of the nomadic lifestyle also appeal to me. And I love reading about symbolism and myths and the ceremonial and cultural aspects of different peoples, so this book appealed on so many levels!

It is divided into four different sections:

History and Motifs: Nomads and settled peoples; trade routes; Jenghis Khan and his legacy; decorative motifs; foreign influences; and traditional motifs and their significance;

Materials and Dyes: Wool; silk; cotton; and dye sources and dyeing;

Felts, Weavings and Dress: Nomad felts; nomad, village and urban woven fabrics; looms; flat weaves; knotted pile; decorative finishings; knitting and crochet; cotton weaving; Ikat silk weaving; traditional dress; and bags, covers, hangings and animal trappings; and

Applied Decoration: Embroidery; nomad, village and urban traditions; and block printing and fabric painting.

It is a beautiful book with over 200 colour plates of sumptuous silks and velvets; exquisite embroideries; stunning felts and woollen fabrics; and fine cotton weaves produced throughout the area and lots of fascinating information about the historical background; mythology and symbolism; materials and dyeing, block printing and fabric painting; and nomadic furnishings, culture and daily life. I am sure you will enjoy this book as much as I did!

In the back is a glossary; further reading lists on Central Asian history and textiles; motifs used in textile decoration; materials and dyes; yarn construction; felt; and applied decoration; and a list of museums and galleries.

BlogTextile History30%IMG_0045

Textiles of South-East Asia by Angela Thompson 2007

An equally comprehensive and detailed book, but featuring the rich textile traditions of Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Spice islands of Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, this book examines the differences and similarities between the different areas, as well as the historic and mercantile links, which have forged them together. The author compares the costumes, weaving and techniques of each country and discusses the underlying symbolic meanings of their designs, which are woven or imprinted into the cloth.

Chapters include:

Historical Background: From the indigenous neolithic peoples of mainland South-East Asia and the establishment of early cultures; different languages, migrations, political and military alliances and gift exchanges and tributary systems; and the influence of topography and the great river systems; to a brief summary of each country; and a discussion of the influence of international trade, including spices, cotton and silk; European  colonization and expansion; the aftermath of the Second World War; and modern trends.

Symbolism, Pattern and Design: Importance of symbols in denoting rank/ status and allegiance; rites of passage and religion; the prohibition of royal symbols and pattern; a brief discussion of the different religious beliefs and history; mythology (creation myths, island myths and fertility myths); auspicious motifs, magic talismans and protective amulets; the different motifs and their symbolism; other weaving patterns; and the influence of imported designs from India and China.

Costume: Uncut cloth: Variations due to climate and geographical terrains; different methods of draping cloth; depictions on historic sculptures; skirts and loin cloths; court cultures and influences;  the 19th and 20th century wrapped loincloths; island sarongs; religious dress; and the use of fabric lengths in shawls, ceremonial blankets, turbans and head-cloths, bed covers, baby wrappers and carry-cloths, and gift covers, temple hangings and banners.

Costume: Closed Dress: Seamed costume based on fabric widths and shaped dresses defined by cutting and seaming; pleated skirts and long dresses; the influence of migrating tribes from China; the national costumes of the hill tribes and the different areas; the golden triangle;  religious dress and royal costumes; colonial and foreign influences and costume accessories like hats, bags and baby carriers.

Threads and Fibres, Spinning and Dyeing:

Threads and fibres: Their production, source materials, tools and history: Cotton, silk, vegetable and bast fibres: pineapple leaves, agave and bamboo, abaca, ramie, lotus flower threads, kapok, rattan, coconut fibre, and bark cloth; and

Dyes and Dyeing: Natural Dyes made from plants (trees, bark, roots, leaves and flowers) and insects; indigo vat dyes; and synthetic dyes.

Weaving and Loom Types: Basic weaving methods and tools; shuttles and different types of looms; weaving preparation and threading the loom; pattern weaves- types and selection; harnesses and heddles; and tapestry weave methods.

Dye Pattern Methods: Ikat, tie-dye and batik and their regional variations; the use of motifs and patterns in puppets and wall hangings, painted and printed cloths ; and political batik.

Embroidery and Appliqué: Geographical variations and the influence of migrating populations and foreign trade by land and sea; counted and cross-stitch; double running stitch; pattern darning; free stitchery (shaded embroidery; filling stitches; and double-sided and silk embroidery); metal threadwork; quilted and machine work; appliqué and patchwork; reverse appliqué; and the influences of war and persecution.

Beadwork and Bead Embroidery: Bead types and origins: shells, abalone, pearls, seeds, glass, sequins and spangles, silver and gold; application to fabric surfaces; netted beadwork and the incorporation of beads into weaving.

Thread and Fibre Crafts: Plaited and woven braids; tablet weaving; lacework, tatting;  nets and hammocks; and fibre crafts: weaving fibre mats and bedcovers; twining, plaiting and interlacing; bases for lacquer ware; and conical hat making…and

Fringes, Tassels, Pompoms and Feathers: Woven fringes, pompoms and tassels on hats, God’s eyes, tasselled lanterns and feather decorations.

All these books have been fascinating reading and like the others, this one includes a glossary; a bibliography; and lists of craft video films and museums and collections.BlogTextile History30%IMG_0052

And if the two previous books have whetted your appetite for more information about the link between symbolism and textiles, then this next book should be right up your alley!

Amulets: A World of Secret Powers, Charms and Magic by Sheila Paine 2004.

This is a lovely book to dive into at whim, rather than trying to absorb all the information at once! With over 400 colour illustrations, this book is a worldwide look at the wide variety of cultural beliefs, the important role of amulets in protection; magic and superstition; rites of passage; war, sex, fertility and harvest; trade and profit; and all the different types, including goddesses and dolls; fossils and semi-precious stones; silver and coins; buttons, beads and blue; red, white and black; teeth, claws and paws; horns and bones;  birds, feathers and hair; snakes and fearful creatures; water and the moon;  salt, garlic, incense and plants; trees, rags and stitches; tangles and triangles; needles, porcupine quills, iron and bells; numbers and letters; hands and crosses; and saints and the church. So much interesting information!!!BlogTextile History30%IMG_0043My final book explores a particular interest area of mine:

Textiles of the Arts and Crafts Movement by Linda Parry 1988/ 2005

I have always loved and been fascinated by the Arts and Crafts Movement (1880 to 1920) and its emphasis on simplicity, beauty and functionality and the handmade! It looks at the artistic and industrial background to this breakaway style; its ideological tenets and purpose; the evolution of the Arts and Crafts style; textiles in Arts and Crafts exhibitions, as well as their use in the home; and embroiderers and designers, like William Morris and his daughters May and Jenny; Jessie Newberry, Una Taylor and Ann Macbeth; Edward Burne-Jones; CFA Voysey; MH Baillie Scott; Philip Webb; Walter Crane; Selwyn Image; JH Dearle; Lindsay Butterfield and George Haité ; Charles Rennie Mackintosh, George Walton and Jessie M King of the Glasgow School of Art and manufacturers and shops, including Morris and Co.; Turnbull and Stockdale; AH Lee & Sons; Silver Studio; Wardle & Co; Liberty & Co. and many others, all listed in the back of the book. A very comprehensive guide to English textiles (printed and woven fabrics, tapestries and carpets and embroideries and lace) when Britain led the design world!BlogTextile History30%IMG_0042

 

The Wonderful World of Art: Part One

Now for a visual treat: a post on some of my favourite books about both art and artists, many of which we have bought after attending a wonderful exhibition!

Art is such a personal concept and performs many different purposes from representing our world to exploring personal ideas or beliefs. Being a romantic at heart and a bit of an ostrich, I tend to be drawn to works of beauty, as I feel our world has enough ugliness in reality, without perpetuating it in our art! A typical example is one of my most favourite paintings: End of Dinner by Jules-Alexandre Grun 1913 https://fineartamerica.com/featured/the-end-of-dinner-jules-alexandre-grun.html.

I will start with two general books on art, then introduce you to some books featuring of my favourite artists and art periods in chronological order. Note: This selection is based solely on my art library and is a very incomplete representation of my favourite art and artists! For example, I love Impressionism, but do not own any books on it or its proponents in my art library, so they are not included in this post. Because this is quite a long post, I have divided it into two parts: Part One: General Art Books and Pre-1900s; and Part Two: Post 1900s.

In my last book post on Architectural Books, I discussed one book, which covered both the architecture and art of Islam, so I thought I would begin with:

The Orient in Western Art by Gérard-Georges Lemaire 2000BlogArtBooksReszd25%Image (680)

For over 2 000 years, the Western imagination has been excited by the world of the Orient from Egypt to Palestine and Greece to Turkey with its exoticism and mystery, its domes and minarets and harems of beautiful women, as depicted in the art of :

Bellini, Carpaccio, Veronese, Tintoretto, Rubens and Rembrandt (15th to 17th Centuries);

The beautiful women of Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun, Jean-Étienne Liotard and Antoine de Favray and landscapes of Jean-Baptiste Hilair in the 18th Century;

The battle scenes of Jean-Léon Gérôme, François Watteau, Baron Antoine-Jean Gros, Anne-Louise Girodet de Roussy-Trioson and Alexandre Bida;  and

Egyptian scenes, painted by David Roberts, Frederick Goodall, William James Müller, Adrian Dauzats, Prosper Marilhat and Rudolf Ernst of the 18th Century.BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-24 17.09.00

I particularly loved Private Conversation by John Frederick Lewis (p 134; photo above); Odalisque by Natale Schiavoni (p 150; first photo below), Jewish Girl in Tangiers by Charles Landelle (p 169; fourth photo below) and Algerian Woman and Her Slave by Ange Tissier on the book cover (first photo of this post).BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-24 17.09.13 Constantinople featured in The Slave Market by Sir William Allen 1838 and View of Constantinople by Germain-Fabius Brest 1870.BlogArtBooksReszd2517-07-24 17.10.09 Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres was entranced by the women of the harem, with some beautiful sensuous nudes like Odalisque (p 202, photo above); Little Bather; Grand Odalisque and Turkish Bath (see: http://www.jeanaugustedominiqueingres.org/), as was Théodore Chassériau – I love his Dance of the Kerchiefs 1849 (p 226).BlogArtBooksReszd20%IMG_0018 Jean-Léon Gérôme painted some lovely river scenes, while Gustave Moreau was fascinated with classical mythology and especially, Salome. Auguste Renoir’s Odalisque 1870 and Seated Algerian 1881 are also favourites.BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-24 17.09.32While the book also features the work of more modern artists, to my mind, none match the beauty and romance of the earlier period. It is a lovely dreamy book and does credit to these beautiful artworks!

Now for something totally different, yet still close to our heart:

A Brush With Birds: Australian Bird Art From the National Library of Australia Introduction by Penny Olsen 2008BlogArtBooksReszd25%Image (685)

Being keen bird-lovers, we had to buy this book! With  full-page colour reproductions of bird art and brief notes on each artist’s life, it showcases bird art from 1788 to the present and a wide variety of styles from the rather stilted representations of the early colonial artists in an attempt to record these strange new birds for scientific purposes (John Hunter, George Raper and Sarah Stone) and the more realistic etchings of John Lewin and the Goulds (John and Elizabeth) to the bird identification guides by the Neville Cayleys (father and son), Ebenezer Edward Gostelow (front cover of the book), Lilian Medland and Betty Temple Watts and the hyper-realistic bird portraits by William Thomas  Cooper, a particular favourite. I love his attention to fine detail like the feathers and his stunning use of colour, seen in the photo below, from page 101 of the book.BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-24 17.01.43

Lars Knudsen’s Australian Birds by Lars Knudsen 1995

Another bird artist, who loves colour, but was not in the above book, is Lars Knudsen.BlogArtBooksReszd40%Image (697) - Copy Born in 1931, so this book is definitely not in chronological order (!), Lars grew up in North Queensland, where he fell in love with the amazing bird life. He spent many years working in advertising in Sydney, before setting up a studio in Spain in 1977 and painting birds full-time.BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-24 17.10.28 Since returning to Australia in 1985, he has produced numerous limited edition prints and now has a studio and gallery at Hampton in the Blue Mountains. In fact, I bought this lovely little book, showcasing 29 of his best Australian bird paintings, along with detailed comments about each bird, at Everglades, Leura in the Blue Mountains.BlogArtBooksReszd2517-07-24 17.10.44 They are stunning paintings, full of movement and colour and really capture the essence of each bird. I particularly loved the Orange-Bellied Parrots (p 30); the Whiskered Terns (p 38); both photographed above, and the Regent Bowerbird (p 53); and the Australian King Parrots (p 56), both photographed below.

BlogArtBooksReszd2517-07-24 17.10.53

I love his slightly abstract style, the colours of the backgrounds complementing the birds so well and his love and passion for birds and their environment really shines through. A delightful little book!BlogArtBooksReszd2517-07-24 17.11.10A Vision of Eden: The Life and Work of Marianne North by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew 1980BlogArtBooksReszd25%Image (694)

Marianne North (1830-1890) is a great favourite of ours! An intrepid traveller, contemporary of Charles Darwin and Sir Joseph Hooker and highly talented artist, she produced over 800 oil paintings, now housed in the Marianne North Gallery at Kew (https://www.kew.org/mng/marianne-north.html). Her paintings show such accuracy and attention to detail and introduced the pre-photography public of the day to the huge diversity of life and natural wonders of the world.BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-24 17.11.58

I love her botanical studies (Page 26 North American Carnivorous Plants in the photo above; and Page 68 Flowers of a Coral Tree, Brazil, in the photo below, BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-24 17.11.46

as well as her exotic landscapes like the Taj Mahal at Agra (above) and the Road Up To Naini Tal, India (below) from page 126 :BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-24 17.11.25and her painting of Distant View of Mount Kinchinjunga, from Darjeeling, India (p 132):BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-24 17.11.34This book follows her life from her early days and home life to her travels in Canada and the United States; Jamaica; Brazil; Japan; Indonesia; India and Ceylon; Australia and New Zealand; South Africa and Chile in South America. I love the simplicity of this painting: A Road Near Bath, Jamaica, Lined With Palms, Bread-Fruit and Cocoa, from page 46:BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-24 17.12.11

As an Australian, it is fascinating to read her travel diary notes and descriptions of the native flora and fauna,  though she could be quite ascerbic:

Brisbane in 1880  is described as: ‘a most unattractive place- a sort of overgrown village, with wide empty streets full of driving dust and sand, surrounded by wretched suburbs of wooden houses scattered over bare steep hills’ (p 158)

and Tenterfield as: ‘what Australians call “a very pretty place”, meaning that there was not a tree within a mile of it, and that it had a little water within reach’ (p 161).

As she travelled south, her mood improved! Armadale (her spelling, but really spelt Armidale) was ‘a considerable place, with some stone houses in it and a bishop’ (p162), where hotel rooms cost 10 shillings a day and meat, a shilling for 10 pounds.

Bendemeer was ‘a pretty green meadow with a clear river running through it, bordered by casuarina trees’ (p 162), though the accommodation was flea-ridden and noisy!

She was very comfortable in Sydney, staying at the Prime Minister’s house in the Blue Mountains; Elizabeth Bay; and Camden, so by the time she reached Melbourne, she was positively rapturous, declaring the city to be: ‘a noble city, and its gardens are even more beautiful than those of Sydney, with greater variety of ground, and lovely views over the river. It is by far the most real city in Australia, and the streets are as full of quickly-moving people as those of London’ (p 168).BlogArtBooksReszd20%IMG_0019 She even visited Perth and Albany in Western Australia and Hobart in Tasmania, where she raved over Mt. Wellington, as seen in her painting: View in the Forest on Mt. Wellington; p 181; photo above). I had to laugh at her assertion that: ‘Cherries, raspberries, every kind of fruit which grows at home grew better than at home. Half the jam in the world is made in Tasmania.‘ (p 178).

The Art of the Pre-Raphaelites by Steven Adams 1988

While well-connected Marianne was very much part of the establishment, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood were much more controversial, rejecting the conservatism of the Royal Academy and aspiring to the era before Raphael, hence their name.BlogArtBooksReszd25%Image (675)

This book examines the academic tradition, against which they rebelled; the inception of the group in 1848 and the famous works of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Ruskin, John Everett  Millais, Edward Burne-Jones, William Morris, William Holman Hunt and Ford Maddox Brown. They certainly produced some beautiful art, especially Millais’ family scenes (Autumn Leaves 1855-1856), as well as his famous Ophelia 1851 and Rossetti’s classically inspired ‘Stunners’ with their heart-shaped faces,  full lips, hooded eyes, unrestrained flowing hair and extravagant robes, like Proserpine 1874 and The Beloved 1865 (book cover). See: http://preraphaelitesisterhood.com/rossettis-models/ .

The Pre-Raphaelites also led very unconventional (and messy!) lives, recounted superbly in Desperate Romantics: The Private Lives of the Pre-Raphaelites by Franny Moyle 2009, as well as the accompanying BBC TV production.

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It is a fascinating read! I think William Morris was very forbearing, as well as being a fascinating character and a real Renaissance man, gifted with so many talents! I adore his work and ethos, so it is not surprising that I own two books about his life and work!

William Morris & Morris & Co. by Lucia Van der Post 2003

Father of the Arts and Crafts Movement and one of Britain’s greatest and best-known designers, whose wallpapers and textiles are still enormously popular, William Morris was born into a wealthy family in 1834 and studied art and literature at Oxford University, where he developed his passion for medievalism and the Gothic and met his lifelong friend, Edward Burne-Jones, through whom he came into contact with the Pre-Raphaelites .

He hated the mass production , pastiche, excessiveness and ugliness of Victorian industrial society, espousing a return to the medieval guilds, simplicity  and true craftmanship, as seen in the ceramic tiles, metalwork, woodwork, furniture, glass, textiles, embroideries, carpets and wallpapers, produced by his firm Morris & Co.

I have always loved his famous quote:

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful’.

I also love his intensely personal involvement with all these crafts and the way he taught himself the necessary skills, whether it was stained glass; clay modelling; illuminating manuscripts; calligraphy; book production; carving wood and stone; wood engraving; mural and tile painting; natural dyeing or tapestry weaving and hand embroidery.

This lovely small book examines the key components of his work under the chapter titles of: Craft; Colour; Honesty; Pattern; Nature; and Legend, with colour photographs of his beautiful work  and patterns throughout. By incorporating Morris designs in a wide variety of settings and modern contexts, the book also provides inspiration for contemporary homeowners.BlogArtBooksReszd25%Image (677)

And if you still haven’t had your fill of his designs, another excellent book about his life and work is:

The Art of William Morris by Christine Poulson 2004, in which the chapters are more chronologically-ordered, following his early life and university study, his establishment of the Firm, his involvement with the Pre-Raphaelites; his marriage and family life; his homes; his political beliefs, public speaking and writings, published through his Kelmscott Press.BlogArtBooksReszd25%Image (676)

The Arts & Crafts Companion by Pamela Todd 2008/ 2011

The ultimate guide to the Arts and Crafts Movement (1880 – 1920), it begins with its philosophy and background; its proponents including William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones, Walter Crane,  CFA Voysey, William Lethaby, Ernest Gimson, the Barnsley brothers,  Philip Webb, MH Baillie Scott and Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and that is only a small portion of the British Arts and Crafts movement. It was also occurring simultaneously in the rest of Europe and the United States of America.

The main section of the book is devoted to lengthy and detailed  chapters about all aspects of the Arts and Crafts Movement: Architecture, Interior Design, Furniture, Textiles and Wallpaper, Stained Glass and Lighting, Pottery and Ceramics, Metalwork and Jewellery; the Printed Word and Gardens, the latter being the subject of my main assessment during my garden history studies.

I loved reading about these gardens, especially those created by Gertrude Jekyll and Edwin Lutyens (Munstead Wood; Hestercombe; and the Deanery); I would love to visit them one day, as well as Red House, Kent (Philip Webb and William Morris) and Kelmscott Manor (William Morris) in the Cotswolds; Standen, West Sussex (Philip Webb), Snowshill Manor (Baillie Scott), Rodmarton Manor (ErnestBarnsley), both in Gloucestershire and Blackwell, overlooking Windermere in the Lake District (MH Baillie Scott). The famous gardens of Hidcote Manor, Sissinghurst and Great Dixter have also been heavily influenced by the Arts and Crafts Movement. See: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lists/our-arts-and-crafts-houses-and-gardens.

I also love the simplicity, subtlety and harmony of the wallpapers, textiles and furniture designed by CFA Voysey, who described his ideal interior as:

a well-proportioned room, with white-washed walls, plain carpet and simple oak furniture’ with a simple vase of flowers and repeated decorative  motifs and symbols like stylized hearts‘.

His houses had low roofs, wide eaves, low horizontal windows, white roughcast walls and exposed beams and brickwork.

It was also very interesting to read about the influence of the Arts and Crafts Movement on embroidery (including the Glasgow School of Art); Morris’s mastery of indigo discharge printing and natural dyeing; early electric lamps from the 1880s on; and stunning jewellery, inset with moonstones, amethyst and mother-of-pearl, as well as pearls, opals, coral, turquoise, malachite and lapis lazuli.

At the back of the book is a Source Book with key addresses and websites for the United Kingdom and the United States of America, as well as an extensive bibliography.BlogArtBooksReszd25%Image (679)

Now for books about four more artists, born during the 1860s, who were developing their artistic styles over this first half of this period: Alphonse Mucha ( 1860-1939) from Czechoslovakia; Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) from Vienna, Austria and two Australian artists, Bertram Mackennal (1863-1931) and Rupert Bunny (1864-1947), both of whom achieved their fame in Europe. All of them produced stunningly beautiful art, reflected in the colour-plates of these gorgeous books.

Alphonse Mucha by Sarah Mucha 2005

Alphonse Mucha was most famous for his Art Nouveau posters (advertising and art posters) with their sinuous lines, pastel colours, beautiful women and decorative motifs, but like other artists of the day, he was also interested in a wide variety of other artistic endeavours from pastels, drawings and oils; sculpture; photography; stained glass; architecture and interior design; furniture; tableware and cutlery; jewellery; tapestry and books. The book cover shown below features his colour lithograph Dance 1898.BlogArtBooksReszd25%Image (674)

This lovely book explores his life, influences and beliefs, the history of the time and the birth of Art Nouveau, and includes his wonderful photographs of his models and family. We were introduced to Mucha, when we bought one of his prints, Music 1898, on our second trip overseas and were delighted to see all his other beautiful designs in this book. I can honestly say that I love them all!BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-30 13.40.49 Compare the colour of our print with the same design, shown in the photo below (p 25), showing the way his designs could be reproduced in a large number of different formats.BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-24 17.07.26

His women are so sensual, romantic and feminine, and I adore his backgrounds with abstract and naturalistic patterns and strong flowing lines, as seen in Reverie 1897 (p 38).BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-24 17.08.07Mucha used floral and botanic details, as well as Byzantine, Celtic, Japanese, Rococo, Gothic, Judaic and Czech folk elements in his work, as can be seen in his mosaic backgrounds, extravagant robes and jewellery and arabesques, all embellished with strong stylised outlines. I love the photo below his lamp titled La Nature 1899 (page 14).BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-24 17.07.02 He used his designs in decorative panels and murals; posters; paintings; jewellery and haircombs; Moet and Chandon labels and menus; packages and postcards; and in 1902, produced a handbook for craftsmen, Documents Décoratifs , containing 72 plates, drawn in pencil and highlighted with white pigment, of all the necessary patterns for creating an Art Nouveau lifestyle, as well as being an encyclopaedia of all his decorative work. They include a realistic study of nature, the designs becoming increasingly stylised for metal, leather, glass and lace work; studies of nudes and women’s heads, showing how the human body has decorative elements; and abstract ornamental framing with repetition of stylised motifs. Below is a photo of two designs for hair combs and jewellery for Documents Décoratifs in Plates 49 and 50 (page 73).BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-24 17.08.25Mucha had a strong philosophical background to his work. Believing that art influenced all aspects of human life and was instrumental in uplifting the soul and promoting peace, harmony, beauty and a sense of moral goodness, he also was a strong proponent in art for the masses, creating strong stylized and often heavily symbolic designs (both explicit and hidden), which could be used repetitively to beautify goods of common consumption and utility, which could be afforded by the ordinary man. Here is Zodiac 1896 (p 28).BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-24 17.07.37His idealism is epitomised by his later Slav Epic, 20 huge canvases, representing the last 1000 years of Slavic history, in which he celebrates the Slavic virtues of peacefulness; piety and devotion to learning and the arts; chronicles the oppression of the Slavs by their militaristic neighbours and laments the weakness, born of Slav disunity. The photo below is: The Apotheosis of the Slavs 1926 from page 18.BlogArtBooksReszd20%IMG_0020With his wonderful ideals and sensitivity, it is little wonder that he died not long after interrogation by the Nazis in 1939 and his work was then largely forgotten in his homeland until the 1990s.

The Mucha Foundation was established in 1992 by his grandson John Mucha and daughter-in-law Geraldine Mucha, following the death of their father/ husband and Mucha’s son Jifi. Its aim is to preserve and promote Mucha’s art for future generations and to this end, has an  ongoing program of exhibitions all over the world. See: http://www.muchafoundation.org/. His work can also be seen at the Mucha Museum, which was opened in Prague in February 1998. See: http://www.mucha.cz/.

Gustav Klimt: Art Nouveau Visionary by Eva di Stefano 2008

Klimt is another favourite Art Nouveau portraitist and landscape painter. I have always loved his sumptuous gilded artworks, full of eroticism, symbolism and mystery, and his beautiful nudes, abstract colourful geometric patterns and gold leaf spirals. The book cover features his painting called Water Serpents I 1904.BlogArtBooksReszd25%Image (673) Like Mucha, he too had a thorough grounding in mosaics, metalwork, and painting, even preparing his own paints, as well as the symbolism and decorative motifs of many different eras and cultures from Greek ceramics and Egyptian and Assyrian reliefs to Slavic folklore. While specialising in painting, he also designed fashion and jewellery. This is one of his very famous paintings, The Kiss 1907-1908 from page 199:BlogArtBooksReszd2517-07-24 17.05.52This lovely book discusses his early life and Fin-de-siècle Vienna; his artistic creed; his landscapes and allegorical friezes; the women in his life, his scandalous paintings and his secession years, having been a founding member of the Vienna Secessionist movement. Another very famous erotic painting is The Virgin 1912-1913 from page 227 of the book:BlogArtBooksReszd2517-07-24 17.06.22For more about Klimt, see: https://www.klimtgallery.org/ and http://www.klimt.com/. Also read  ‘The Painted Kiss’ by Elizabeth Hickey (http://www.simonandschuster.com/books/The-Painted-Kiss/Elizabeth-Hickey/9780743492614) and the film, Woman in Gold (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2404425/).

Bertram Mackennal : The Fifth Balnaves Foundation Sculpture Project  by Deborah Edwards 2007

One of the earliest Australian- born artists to seek fame and achieve success on the international stage, especially France and Britain. He was the first Australian artist to exhibit at the Royal Academy, London; the first overseas artist (and first Australian) to be elected to the Royal Academy; and the first Australian artist to have work purchased for the Tate Gallery and to be knighted. The book cover features a closeup of an exquisite bronze Circe 1893, the statuette from 1902-1904 appearing on page 31.BlogArtBooksReszd25%Image (684)Travelling to Europe in 1882, aged 19 years old, he was heavily influenced by Art Nouveau and  the avant-garde aspirations of the British ‘New Sculptors’, creating beautiful naturalistic figures in bronze and marble, based on symbolist themes. By the early 1900s, he had become a prominent civic sculptor and a master of Edwardian style and elegance. I love this bronze Morning (Woman Dressing Her Hair) 1902 from p 110:BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-24 17.03.58Despite being highly successful overseas, he is less well-known here in Australia, so this book was produced, along with an accompanying CD-ROM, to educate the Australian public about his life,  showcase his smaller domestic sculptures and complement a retrospective exhibition, held in Sydney and his home-town of  Melbourne, where we were introduced to his work. I fell in love with his work- so beautiful and so tactile, the full-page colour-plates of this gorgeous coffee-table book really do justice to his amazing sculptures! Here is a delightful small marble statue, Sappho 1909 from page 70.BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-24 17.04.20Rupert Bunny: Artist in Paris by Deborah Edwards 2009

While Mackennal was the most internationally successful Australian artist of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Rupert Bunny was Australia’s most successful painter in Paris, both men finally eclipsed by Sidney Nolan in the 1950s and 1960s.BlogArtBooksReszd25%Image (692) Arriving in Paris in 1887, just as PostImpressionism and Symbolism were emerging, he was heavily influenced by these movements, as well as the art of the Pre-Raphaelites and French Realism. The book cover features his dreamy oil painting titled Dolce Farniente 1897, seen in full in the photo below from page 60.

BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-24 17.02.21 This beautiful book, also produced to accompany a wonderful exhibition at the National Gallery Of Victoria, describes his life in France; his successes and his sumptuous paintings from biblical and literary paintings (1889-1905), for example:  his beautiful oil painting A Summer Morning 1897, the photo taken from page 63 of the book;BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-24 17.02.31 the beautiful women and fashions of the fin-de-siècle (1896-1911);BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-24 17.03.26 the works for the Ballet Russes; and his later landscapes and mythological paintings in the decorative modern style (1913-1930). I loved his oil  The Sun Bath 1913 (page 105):BlogArtBooksReszd2017-07-24 17.03.40It was wonderful seeing the large artworks closeup and this book is a lovely reminder of his beautiful romantic and sensuous paintings.

On Thursday, I will continue this post on Art Books with more wonderful artworks from the 1900s on.