Japonism

Jean d'ARDENNE - Félicien ROPS

Notes d'un vagabond. Edition illustrée de compositions dans le texte par Henri Cassiers et d'une eau-forte par Félicien Rops.

Brussels, Henry Kistemaeckers, 1887.

Large 8vo, contemporary full red varnished calf with elaborate Japanese-inspired embossed and painted naturalistic decor incorporating animals, flowers and characters spreading across the front cover, the spine and the back cover, smooth spine with light brown morocco lettering piece, Japanese-inspired illustrated paper doublure and endpapers with a design of flamingos in shades of white, pink, and blue, top edge gilt, original printed wrappers bound in. 382 pp., (2) pp. Complete.

Black and white illustrations throughout by Henri Cassiers and one original etching by the important Belgian artist Félicien Rops (1833-1898).

First edition.

Beautiful example of French Japonist designer binding created in an era of dynamic and creative cross-pollination between Japanese design and European Art Nouveau at the turn of the last century.

A closed society for over 200 years, Japan ended its self-imposed isolation in 1854 after American Commodore Matthew C. Perry led a fleet of armed steamships into Japanese ports and secured a trade treaty. Subsequently, Japanese exports such as metalwork, ivories, lacquerwork, woodblock prints, ceramics and textiles flooded the Western marketplace, inspiring with their wealth of distinctive decorative elements, many drawn from nature, with the first formal exhibitions of Japanese arts and crafts taking place at the London International Exhibition in 1862, the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1867, and the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition in 1876. The rediscovery of Japanese art and design had an almost incalculable effect on Western art. The development of modern painting from impressionism on was profoundly affected by the flatness, brilliant colour, and high degree of stylisation, combined with realist subject matter, of Japanese woodcut prints. Design was similarly concerned, as seen in the Aesthetic Movement and Art Nouveau. This fascination with Japanese art, known as Japonism, provided poetic imagination and a vision of art that changed tastes and revealed a whole world of ideas, forms and colours. Japonism flourished in painting, drawing, engraving, posters, sculpture, furniture, textile, wallpaper, architectural drawing, photography, and bookbinding. Concerning bookbinding, designers employed various techniques that reflected an interest in Japanese style, a fashion developed in France in the 1880s and 1890s by designer binders encouraged by noted French bibliophiles such as the Goncourt brothers and others.

Unidentified illustrated bookplate inside front cover.

A well-preserved copy, considering the fragility of these bindings.