japonisme: the geeses are coming! the geeses are coming!

04 September 2007

the geeses are coming! the geeses are coming!

i happened upon a new, to me, site today that i found charming, relevant, and a little disappointing.

it's a children's books library. each of over 2,000 books has been wholly scanned, and is made available at 'real size' and color. it's wonderfully easy to navigate as well.

the collection seems to catch the publishing industry right at the time of the aesthetic movement, though there is still a fair offering of victorian style as well. but with the aesthetic we have that introduction of the japanese influence.

in 'alice's alphabet,' for example, right there under 'a is for alice' we see a japanese fan on the mantle. and, of course, 'f is for fan.' this is the time of walter crane and kate greenaway, and of the two, i think the first, who has been featured here, was the more influenced. in this collection, we have the gamut. clearly the influence is there, the outlines, the blocks of color, the diagonals, occasionally the calligraphy style, and then too the 'product placement.' and the clearest markings of the era--the page decoration features.

what we don't see much of yet is how the line itself began to change; as with women's dresses, the lines in illustration became less rigid, and more natural, purely reflecting their asian influences.

then of course there is edward lear, whose work, among the earliest, could have been done yesterday.

yes, i was disappointed that the collection stopped at 1900, just when my interest really begins, but a fine collection it is, and i had a lovely couple of hours there without even leaving the A's!

(edward lear, 'a book of nonsense,' 1875; j.g. sowerby, 'afternoon tea: rhymes for children,' 1880.)

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hi, and thanks so much for stopping by. i spend all too much time thinking my own thoughts about this stuff, so please tell me yours. i thrive on the exchange!

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