The red splodge representing the reign of Ivan the Terrible in Gustave Doré’s ‘The History of Holy Russia’
Via via I discover Gustave Doré‘s The Rare and Extraordinary History of Holy Russia (1854), an illustrated book with 500 drawings executed by Doré when he was just 21.
Doré was a genius, perhaps only equaled by Grandville (thirty year’s Doré’s senior).
The History of Holy Russia features a number of experimental and metatextual elements which are as surprising as the black page in Tristram Shandy.
The red splodge above represents the reign of Ivan the Terrible.
The caption reads:
- “Suite du règne d’Ivan le Terrible. Devant tant de crimes, clignons l’oeil pour n’en rien y voir que l’aspect général.”
- “Continuation of the reign of Ivan the Terrible. Faced with such crimes, let’s blink our eyes to not see anything than the broad picture.” (tr. J.W. Geerinck)
The past few months I’ve been absolutely smitten with the ornamental print. Interest in these as part of the Old master print aesthetic dates only from the 1870s (when the first museums of applied arts were founded in Europe) and has been on the rise the last few years, thanks to sites such as Il Giornale Nuovo and its heir BibliOdyssey. My fascination with them was rekindled recently by taking the book Quatre siècles de Surréalisme out of my library in September. This post is meant to give you the highlights of my research in the field the past few months.
Thus, ornamental print highlights include:
Elephant coming out of a chimney by Wendel Dietterlin, Bouquet on back of peddler by Isaac Briot, Habit d’orfèvre from Les costumes grotesques et les métiers by Nicolas de Larmessin II, Leviores et (ut videtur) extemporaneae picturae, Mask with dishes around the eyes and pointed serrated crests on the cheeks and forehead, Cartouche in auricular style (Johannes Lutma), Fontaine Rocaille by Gabriel Huquier, Mascarade à la Grecque album, Jeune Moine à la Grecque , Œuvre de Juste-Aurèle Meissonnier frontispiece, Auricular Cartouche with Figures within a Strapwork Frame, An antique vase with handle formed by a dog by Enea Vico, Neuw Grottessken Buch by Christoph Jamnitzer , Balançoire chinoise by Jean-Baptiste Pillement.
Some perennial favourites, which cannot be strictly called ornamental prints, need to be mentioned here: Bizzarie di varie figure by Bracelli, Varie Figuri Gobbi by Callot, Les Songes Drolatiques by Desprez, the grotesques of Arent van Bolten, the Geometria et Perspectiva by Lorenz Stöer, Scenographiae, sive perspectivae by Hans Vredeman de Vries and Perspectiva Corporum Regularium by Wentzel Jamnitzer.
Illustrations: Fantastic Sea Carriage by Cornelis Floris and Poop of the Soleil Royal by Jean Bérain the Elder.