The Beauty of Natural Forms

SEGUY (E. A.)Papillons.

Paris, Tolmer, (circa 1928).

Folio, loose as issued in original cloth-backed portfolio with ties, white boards, upper side lettered in silver with large pochoir illustration. (4)pp. and 20 pochoir plates including 16 of butterflies (five species to each plate [one plate shows six species]) and 4 plates of transformation of butterflies into patterns. Complete.

First and only edition of Seguy’s spectacular and intensely-coloured pochoir butterfly plates.

The plates show exotic and highly colourful butterflies from India, New Guinea, the Himalayas, Africa, South-East Asia, China, and South America, enlarged in size, sometimes as much as ten or fifteen times (to avoid the need of a lens), but reproduced faithfully in form and colour in a mixture of media combining a collotype base with stencil in watercolour or gouache.

Seguy’s work in Paris between 1900 and 1930 bridges the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods: embracing the bold new forms of the Art Deco style while retaining the expressive curvilinear forms of the older style. Remarkably, in view of his later celebrity as a designer, Seguy was trained not as an artist but as an entomologist, eventually becoming Director of the Laboratory for General and Applied Entomology at the Museum of Natural History in Paris. In the Papillon collection, he introduces images of rarely-seen exotic butterflies to the artistic world, showing great artistic flair and sensitivity to the beauty of natural forms and a remarkable understanding of their application in the field of design. The pochoir technique, in which colours are applied by hand through a succession of stencils, is especially suited to the subject, allowing the artist to convey the intensity of colour in butterflies’ wings and yet do justice to its subtle variations.

Seguy was alive to the decorative potential of insect symmetry and provides four plates in which details of butterflies are incorporated into sixteen different decorative abstract forms and ornamental patterns.

Faint foxing to the title-page, beautiful copy of what is certainly Seguy’s most splendid and best loved portfolio.

Ref. Francis M. Lamond & Stéphane-Jacques Addade, Portefeuilles modernes Art déco,  pp. 542-543

Price on request

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