Friday, December 5, 2008

Edmund Dulac

Born in Toulouse, France, in 1882, Edmund Dulac was a prolific illustrator in the Art Nouveau style. He drew hundreds of illustrations for delux edition storybooks. During WWI he illustrated relief books to support the French and Belgian causes. After the war and a change in publishing away from expensive editions he designed stamps and currency, did portraiture and commercial design and even some set design for Orson Welles' Mercury Theater.

Dulac originally studied law, which he found boring. His dramatic artwork is anything but boring. His use of complex natural, especially floral designs is typical of the Art Nouveau style. Today we would recognize the fractal complexity of such patterns. Typical motifs were nature scenes from fairy tales or the beautiful garden scene for the poetry of Omar Khayyam.

His use of vivid color and dramatic themes and dynamic compositions is stylistically romantic. But he avoids contemporary imagery. He draws no battles, no buildings, no modern achievements. His romance is of a different world or a distant age. Yet it is the romance of human drama - not the folksy corniness of Norman Rockwell nor the landscapes of Maxfield Parrish. His work compares favorably with that of Louis Comfort Tiffany for its luminance and that of René Lalique for its grace.

You can see many of Dulac's prints for sale on line. Artsy Craftsy has some very nice images. There is an article on Dulac at Wikipedia. They also have a gallery of some of his works, but the colors are washed out, so if you like the image you would do well to find a better reproduction of it with a web search. You can also use your browser to view the images here in full size.

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