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Twenty boldly-colored pochoir prints of decorative compositions in the Art Nouveau style, loose as issued in a portfolio book by the French designer and author E.A. Séguy. The designs primarily employ stylized floral motifs, though some feature birds and butterflies. As suggested by the subtitle of each print, Composition dans le Goût Oriental, the images are in the "oriental taste," apparently derived from the study of Asian art. The title of the portfolio, Samarkande, suggests Séguy was inspired in part by Central Asian textiles -- the city of Samarkand, in present day Uzbekistan, is known for its silks, carpets and weavings. 19th century “Orientalist” artists in France were inspired by the traditional art of Turkey, as well as by the sinuous forms depicted in Chinese and Japanese art, and Séguy's "oriental" designs seem to reflect these various influences filtered through Art Nouveau.
Émile-Alain Séguy produced eleven albums of illustrations and designs from the turn of the century to the 1930s, and his style reflected the influences of both Art Nouveau and Art Deco. His various color portfolios of visual ideas for artists and designers often featured motifs based on the natural world, including flowers, foliage, crystals and animals. Although his compositions were design oriented, he made the depictions scientifically accurate. His later works showed an increased interest in geometric and cubist designs. The prints in the portfolios were produced using the pochoir technique characterized by rich, intense color. This printing process, utilized in the early 20th century for high quality prints, involved applying colors to each plate with a number of stencils. Séguy’s works include Les Fleurs et Leurs Applications Decoratives (1900), Samarkande – 20 Compositions en Couleurs dans le Style Oriental (1914), Floreal (1920), Papillons (1924), Insectes (1924), Primavera --Dessins et Coloris Nouveaux (1929), Suggestions (1930), and Prismes - 40 Planches de Dessins et Coloris Nouveaux (1931).
The scholarly consensus is that E.A. Séguy’s full name was Émile-Alain Séguy and he lived from 1877 to 1945. Nonetheless, in some sources he is referred to as Eugène-Alain rather than Émile-Alain. This was probably in mistaken reference to Eugène-Alain Séguy (1890-1985), a professor in entomology at Le Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris. The Union List of Artist Names maintained by the Getty Research Institute lists the preferred name and spelling as "E.A. Séguy."
Collections of prints like these provided source material for designers of fabrics, wallpaper, ceramics, book illustrations, posters, and advertisements, and were popular in the late 19th and early 20th century. The leading Victorian publication of this type was Owen Jones’s Grammar of Ornament, first issued in a folio edition in London in 1856. Other trendsetting styles in art, design, decoration and fashion in the second half of the 19th century, and early 20th century, came from Paris, Austria, Switzerland, and Germany, and many such print collections were published there, including designs by Eugene Alain Séguy, Émile Belet, Ernst Haeckel, Arsène Herbinier, and Anton Seder, and publications by Armand Guérinet. Some prints were separately issued to be framed and used as decoration in their own right, though were still known in the trade to be used for design inspiration, such as works by Émile Vouga and Christine Klein. Generally the works were printed in rich colors with chromolithography. Other print techniques frequently employed include pochoir (c. 1920s, with brilliant colors), hand-colored lithographs, heliotypes, etc. To search our site for more Art Nouveau designs by such artists please type “Art Nouveau” or “decorative arts designs” into our search engine.
Charles Massin founded his publishing house in Paris in 1910 and specialized in collections of colorplates of architectural and decorative arts designs under the imprint Librairie Générale de l’Architecture et des Arts Décoratifs. The firm continues today as Editions Massin.
Full publication information: Librairie Générale de l’Architecture et des arts Décoratifs, 51 Rue des Écoles.
Breidbach, Olaf, Irenäus Eibl-Eibesfeldt and Richard Hartmann. Art Forms in Nature: The Prints of Ernst Haeckel. New York: Prestel, 1998.
"Editions Massin." Editions Massin. 10 February 2006. http://www.massin.fr/Editions.ArianeREditions%20Massin.aspx (10 February 2006).
Sear, Dexter. "E.A. Séguy Exhibition: 20 January - 21 March, 2003." Lancaster University Library. 18 February 2003. http://domino.lancs.ac.uk/INFO/LUNews.nsf/I/00001C1E (11 July 2003).