Thursday, March 20, 2014

Alphabet & Writing Copybook

'The Writing Pen: a new book containing several alphabets and various moral judgements as well as descriptive formulae, bills of exchange, maritime policies, waybills, and other trade writings in the current style, with a final table of Roman numerals' is an approximate title translation for this slender 18th century Italian volume for improving handwriting skills.

[Each image has been cropped back to the plate border from the full page 
layout, and most plates were rotated to get them nearer to true horizontal]



La penna da scrivere - Francesco Polanzani, 1768



La penna da scrivere - Francesco Polanzani, 1768 a



La penna da scrivere - Francesco Polanzani, 1768 b



La penna da scrivere - Francesco Polanzani, 1768 c



La penna da scrivere - Francesco Polanzani, 1768 d



La penna da scrivere - Francesco Polanzani, 1768 e



La penna da scrivere - Francesco Polanzani, 1768 g



La penna da scrivere - Francesco Polanzani, 1768 h



La penna da scrivere - Francesco Polanzani, 1768 i



La penna da scrivere - Francesco Polanzani, 1768 j



La penna da scrivere - Francesco Polanzani, 1768 k



La penna da scrivere - Francesco Polanzani, 1768 l



La penna da scrivere - Francesco Polanzani, 1768 o



La penna da scrivere - Francesco Polanzani, 1768 p



Francesco (Felice) Polanzani (1700-?1783) entered into an engraving apprenticeship in Venice under the tutelage of Giovanni Pitteri before settling in Rome in 1742. The following 20 years are regarded as Polanzani's most active professional years, with the majority of his engraving and etching output being modelled after paintings by the Masters (see, for instance, this web set at Thorvaldsens Musem in Denmark).

While in Rome, Polanzani became a friend - and/or student - of the renowned architectural illustrator, Giovanni Battista Piranesi. Polanzani is perhaps best remembered for his eccentric portrayal of Piranesi:
"In the famous portrait [1750], etched by Felice Polanzani but surely devised by the subject himself, Piranesi appears as the reincarnation of an antique bust looming over an ivy-covered slab of stone.." (ED Howe, 'The Art of Exaggeration' 1995)
'The Writing Pen..' (the book seen above) was designed by Felice Polanzani and published in Rome in 1768 by P&G Samonati. This copybook consists of a title page and nineteen engraved plates featuring alphabets and writing samples reflecting contemporary business and letter styles. It may have been aimed at clerks and office worker-types of the day, who could practice their handwriting using the commercial letter and fine cursive samples as models.

The founding curator of the Printing and Graphic Arts Collection at Harvard University's Houghton Library, Philip Hofer, assembled an impressive array of writing and penmanship manuals in the first half of the 20th century; including Polanzani book. So remarkable was his curatorial & acquisitional skills, that a book devoted to Hofer's legacy, the Hofer Collection of Writing Manuals, was published by Harvard University about a decade ago: 'The Practice of Letters: The Hofer Collection of Writing Manuals, 1514-1800' (1995) by DP Becker [Harvard UP].


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Zoological Atlas

'Atlas de Zoologie : ou Collection de 100 Planches' by Paul Gervais (1844) is a supplementary volume of illustrations, originally produced for a large French series on zoology published between 1816 and 1830. The original series featured 60 written volumes and another 10 or so volumes of illustration plates. The series title: 'Dictionnaire des sciences naturelles, dans lequel on traite méthodiquement des différens êtres de la nature, considérés soit en eux-mêmes, d'après l'état actuel de nos connaissances, soit relativement à l'utilité qu'en peuvent retirer la médecine, l'agriculture, le commerce et les artes...'.

{mouse-over for plate titles; all illustrations have been lightly background cleaned}


5. CIDARITE porc-epic 5.a. Une des longues epines du meme gros 6. C. diademe 6.a. Base de l'epine gros 6.b. Tubercule mamelonne gross 7. C. rayonne



1. ECHINOMETRE artichaut. 1.a. Le meme depouille 2. OURSIN pustuleux. 2.a. orifice des ovaires 3. OUR. melon de mer. 3.a. orif. des ov'es 3.b. portion du tet d'epouille montrant les ambulacres grossi



starfish



described in 1840s as Actinozoa (obsolescent term)



1. SIPONCLE villeux 2. SIPONCLE nu out BALANOPHORE



jellyfish



salamander



molluscs - gastropods or snails



6-legged insects



spider species



head of dodo



bird with elaborate head plumage display



bird of paradise with beautiful neck colouring



eagle



Cuscus species climbing on tree branch



shrew + numbat



koala + Tasmanian devil illustrations



large eared dog species and hyena



Paul Gervais (1816-1879) began his education in general science and medicine before specialising in palaeontology at the French Museum of Natural History in the 1830s. Soon after, Gervais was appointed to the Chair (later Dean) of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy in Montpelier in Southern France and later held professorships at the Sorbonne and the Museum of Natural History in Paris. Gervais published widely across palaeontological-related subjects including a noted supplement on French zoology/palaeontology for a series by renowned naturalist, Georges Cuvier. Gervais was one of the earliest scientists to consistently use the term dinosaur.

In a 26-page preview, Gervais provides classification details for all the species illustrated in the 'Atlas de Zoologie' (1844). The beautiful hand-coloured engravings were executed by gifted hands after designs by Prêtre, Meunier and Vaillant. It seems that one of the original editors of the enormous zoology series (1816-1830) died before this particular set of illustrations could be allocated among the supplementary volumes; thus, this later Gervais volume features some of the most curious and unusual species from across the animal world. Of particular note above (to me): dodo, koala, Tasmanian devil and Bird of Paradise.


Friday, February 21, 2014

Takushoku Graphic Arts

Graphic design posters by contemporary Japanese artists,
hosted by Takushoku University Arts Library [link]

All the images below were spliced together from screen shots. 
These images remain under copyright of the individual artist or their estate.


very colourful poster with transection of  human head, rainbow, flower etc
6th Contemporary Japanese Sculpture Exhibition,
1975 by Kiyoshi Awazu



1960s Japanese graphic poster with typical cliche warrior face grimacing
3rd International Biennial Exhibition of Prints in Tokyo,
1962 by Ikko Tanaka



montage poster of various traditional Japanese folkloric characters and symbols
750th Anniversary of Nichiren Shu Buddhism,
2001 by Tadanori Yokoo



colourful Japanese poster featuring embellished render of grimacing Japanese man in head scarf
200th anniversary of Sharaku,
1995 by Yoshio Hayakawa



pastiche commemorative Japanese poster with graphical, photographic and cliche geisha portrait pictures
1965 → 2000 poster Gei-jutsu,
2000 by Tadanori Yokoo



symbolic poster with face in cloud, embellished snorting horse + Japanese text
'Dawn-Maroaka-ji of Japan' -Akaji Maro Dance Performance,
1983 by Kohei Suriura



semi-abstract furry typographic figure / part cat - Japanese poster
Design Life,
1994 by Kazumasa Nagai



poster for 'floral cosmology' in Japan with illustrated woman among flowers on steep hillside
Exhibition decoration, weaving, dyeing of life
tree and Asia flower space - Floral Cosmology,
1992 by Kohei Sugiura



'freedom' poster in japan with illustrated face profile made from colour pencils twisted to look like barbed wire
Freedom - Bicentennial of French Revolution,
1989 by UG Sato



graphics poster in japan with background Buddha figure holding embellished lotus and building among ethereal smoke
Graphistes Tradition et Nouvelle Technique -
12 Graphistes Japonais (Les Ateliers),
1984 by Kohei Sugiura



appeal poster with illustrated flaming butterflies falling from the sky - in colour
Hiroshima Appeals,
1983 by Yusaku Kamekura



Aspen design conference poster - horizontal thin colourful wavy lines and single, tilted capital E overlay
Kiyoshi Awazu Exhibition + Workshop,
1993 by Kiyoshi Awazu



poster for chocolate - dark background with abstract colour stick lines looking maybe like sailing ship
Meiji Seika 'Meiji Milk Chocolate Deluxe' (amusement park),
1958 by Tadashi Ohashi



japanese poster of semi-stylised patterned green frog with tongue out to catch an insect
Part 4 Japan,
1988 by Kazumasa Nagai



poster from Japan with stylised chicken and Korean flag as circle
Korean Traditional Art Troupe visit performances,
1983 by Kohei Sugiura



poster with gallopping zebras with trees growing out of their stripes
Where Can Nature Go,
1983 by UG Sato

Translation of (part of) collection introduction: "With the establishment of the Department of Industrial Design, in Hachioji campus library, we started collecting storage business of documentation on the design ("design Takushoku University library") from 1994 in Takushoku. Japan's "Design" and this is what for "lifestyle" research, collect material design more specific, is performed for the purpose of development and improvement of academic research and learning in the university. We aim to be a "base exchange of design" that connects Japan and the world through this activity in the future."

Takushoku University Graphic Arts Gallery
-- all images remain under copyright of the individual artist or their estate.

Friday, January 31, 2014

A Garland of Ragas

"This is an album (muraqqaʿ) compiled in the late 13th century AH / 19th CE, or possibly later. It contains nineteen Deccani paintings and four pages of shikastah calligraphy, one of which is dated 1211 AH / 1796 CE (f. The paintings, which date to the late 12th century AH / 18th CE or 13th century AH / 19th CE, come from a ragmala series attributable to the Deccan. A ragmala is a visualization of a musical mode or melody. This album contains a mix of visualizations of ragas (male musical modes) and raginis (female musical modes considered to be the wives of the male musical modes)." [Source: Walters Art Museum W. 669]

"Ragamala paintings are pages from a garland (mala) of visual melodies (ragas). Each page visualises a particular mode (five or more musical tones), and is frequently accompanied by a brief inscription or poem that suggests the time of day, season and even mood of the raga.
The transformation of expression from music, through poetry to painting was a gradual one, most likely stimulated by the invention of paper. Medieval musicians would associate each raga or mode with a deity and name it, perhaps as a means of memorising a melody. Intrigued poets of the late medieval period then personified these ragas and elaborated their tales in vivid verbal imagery. These stories along with other influential musical texts provided the poetic source for ragamala painting." [source: What is Ragamala?]


Indian manuscript miniature - music visualisation
Sri Raga



Indian manuscript miniature - music visualisation
Todi ragini



Indian manuscript miniature - music visualisation
Asavari ragini



Indian manuscript miniature - music visualisation
Female performing a ritual at night with a full moon



west Indian manuscript miniature - a music visualisation with Persian calligraphy from Rajisthan
Shikastah^ calligraphy



Indian manuscript miniature - music visualisation
Khambhavati ragini



Indian manuscript miniature - music visualisation
Megha raga



Indian manuscript miniature - music visualisation
Khambhavati ragini



Indian manuscript miniature - music visualisation
Malavakausa raga 
(Malakausika, Malakausa, Malkos raga)



Indian manuscript miniature - music visualisation
Dipaka raga (Dipak)



Indian manuscript miniature - music visualisation
Bhairava raga
(possibly Vasanta ragini)



Indian manuscript miniature - music visualisation
Vasanta ragini (Vasant)



Indian manuscript miniature - music visualisation
An Indian woman, holding a fan, at a pond



Indian manuscript miniature - music visualisation
Lalita ragini



Indian manuscript miniature - music visualisation featuring killed white elephant with tusks removed
Karnata ragini (Kanada ragini)



Indian manuscript miniature - music visualisation
Hindola raga



Indian manuscript miniature - music visualisation
Malava ragini



Indian manuscript miniature - music visualisation
Nata ragini
(known in some sets as Sindhu ragini)


The writing surface of the album is 13.5cm x 21cm and features Persian as the primary language, written in the shikastah calligraphy script. There are 19 Indian Rajput-style miniatures together with borders of various colours, together with gold frames. The images above have been cropped back to the outer border and the colour saturation has been very mildly increased. The goatskin binding is not original and the manuscript came into the possession of Walters Art Museum from a bequest in the 1930s.

 
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