Esthetic Languages of the Book in Fin-de-Siècle France: Japonisme, Symbolism, and Art Nouveau in the Private Library of Henri Vever

in Quaerendo
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?

Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.



Have Institutional Access?

Login with your institution. Any other coaching guidance?



The private diaries written between 1898 and 1901 by the French jeweler, art collector, and bibliophile Henri Vever (1854-1942) provide fresh evidence about how important late-nineteenth century esthetic ‘languages’ (japonisme, Symbolism, Art Nouveau) were appropriated by artists committed to renewing the decorative arts; the diaries also address the meaning and status of books. For Vever, his extensive collection of Japanese pattern albums served, above all, a utilitarian function, as design primers and sources of information about printing and engraving techniques for craft modernizers. At the same time, included in the physical space of his ‘Japanese library’ and in line with Symbolist esthetics, Japanese books were, to Vever, suggestive bibelots, whose evocative powers were enhanced through inclusion in harmonious decors. Vever’s experiments in Art Nouveau book design, finally, reveal his additional conception of the book as both surface to be decorated and space of artistic collaboration underscoring the equality of all arts.

  • View in gallery
    Henri Vever in Noyers (Eure), ca. 1895. Henri Vever Papers, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C. Gift of François Mautin, 1988.
  • View in gallery
    Reproduction of Camille Corot, La Jeune Mère (c. 1854-6), in Collection H. V.: catalogue de tableaux modernes de premier ordre, pastels, aquarelles, dessins, sculptures dont la vente aura lieu galerie Georges Petit, Paris-1 & 2 février 1897 (Paris 1897), n.p. Photogravure enhanced with etching.
  • View in gallery
    Henri Vever, La Bijouterie française au XIXe siècle (1800-1900), vol. 3 (La Troisième République, 1870-1900) (Paris 1908), pp. 370-1. Illustrated with photogravures.
  • View in gallery
    Artistic Japan (English language edition of Le Japon artistique), n. 5, September 1888. Eberly Family Special Collections Library, The Pennsylvania State University.
  • View in gallery
    Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) (publisher: Nishimuraya Yohachi; block cutter: Tomekichi Egawa), book, Edo period, 1823, woodblock printed, ink on paper, paper covers (vols. 1-2: 5 3/16 × 7 3/16 × 3/8 in.; vol. 3: 5 1/16 × 7 3/16 × 3/8 in.). Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; Purchase, The Gerhard Pulverer Collection—Charles Lang Freer Endowment, Friends of the Freer and Sackler Galleries and the Harold P. Stern Memorial Fund in appreciation of Jeffrey P. Cunard and his exemplary service to the Galleries as chair of the Board of Trustees (2003-2007), FSC-GR-780.240.1-3.
  • View in gallery
    Cover illustration by Léon Rudnicki for Edmond Haraucourt, L’effort (1894), color lithograph. Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin.
  • View in gallery
    James McNeill Whistler, Henry Thompson (artists): Charles Meunier (binder). A Catalogue of Blue and White Porcelain forming the Collection of Sir Henry Thompson (1878). Accession number 92.1090. H: 10 ¼ × 8 1/16 in. (26.04 × 20.48 cm.). Book bound between boards covered with calfskin, goatskin, porcelain, gold and patterned silk. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore.
  • View in gallery
    Cover illustration by Eugène Grasset for Histoire des quatre fils Aymon, très nobles et très vaillans chevaliers (Paris 1883). Eberly Family Special Collections Library, The Pennsylvania State University.
  • View in gallery
    Jules Chadel (designer) and Henri Noulhac (binder), binding for Henri Vever’s copy of Anatole France, Les Opinions de Jérôme Coignard (1893), in Émile de Crauzat, La Reliure française de 1900 à 1925, vol. 2 (Paris 1932), n.p.
Index Card
Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 187 148 11
Full Text Views 129 123 2
PDF Downloads 27 22 1
EPUB Downloads 5 1 0