Click main image below to view enlargements and captions.

Decorative Arts Design, Butterflies, Art Nouveau, Manner of Seguy, Watercolor, Mid 20th C.


Butterflies in the Manner of E.A. Séguy
American: c. 1950s
Watercolor on pebbled paper
Signed lower right
27.5 x 19.25 inches, overall
21 x 13 inches, image

Watercolor painting of 10 butterflies, based on those depicted in Papillons by Émile-Alain Séguy, but in an original composition. It is painted on a pebbled texture paper, which gives the wings a more life-like look. The artist carefully copied individual butterflies from seven of Séguy’s plates, changing colors and rotating and overlapping the source images to make a new arrangement and composition, about twice the size of the regular Séguy plates. Papillons is a set of 20 pochoir prints of butterflies first published in 1924 (view the set). In the foreward to the collection, Séguy states that he intends it as a record of rare, exotic specimens from museums and private collections within an aesthetic context, thereby making them more widely accessible as inspiration for decorative arts designers. This watercolor documents the efforts of one artist to follow Séguy’s suggestion and use the illustrations to produce a new design. This Duffee work was found in a Scarsdale, New York, house estate, where it had long been hung as decoration.


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).

Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light toning and wear. Mat toning where previously matted, can be rematted out again when reframed. Cellotape residue, minor dampstain in outer margins beyond image, all to be matted out. Paper slightly cockled.


Sear, Dexter. “E.A. Séguy Exhibition: 20 January – 21 March, 2003.” Lancaster University Library. 18 February 2003. (11 July 2003).

Séguy, Émile-Alain (E.A.). Papillons. Paris: Editions Duchartre et Van Buggenhoudt, 1924.

Additional information


20th Century