Art Nouveau Bookbinding

Art Nouveau and Art Deco Bookbinding: French Masterpieces 1880-1940

Not so long ago I encountered a photo of the binding of the 1930 Gonin edition of Le Livre des Rois, L Avenement de Salomon illustrated by French artist Francois Louis Schmied.

Le Livre des Rois

It is a stunning example of an Art Deco binding, and such a thing of beauty that it inspired the purchase of Art Nouveau and Art Deco Bookbinding: French Masterpieces 1880-1940, by Alastair Duncan and Georges de Bartha. The handbound edition of that book is shown above and it is not, sadly, the edition that arrived by post today. That one was bound by Hugo Peller in a style very much like those shown in the book.

My copy, on the other hand, is a mass produced first edition – still a beautiful thing, but not quite as delicious as it would be if it was leather-bound.

Art Nouveau and Art Deco Bookbinding

I was hoping to discover not only who bound Le Livre des Rois, but also how it was bound. Alas, that book did not make an appearance here. Nevertheless, inside is a wonderful collection of images of some of the finest bindings to come out of one of my favorite periods of art history, including the work of Rose Adler, Madeleine Gras, and Mme Marot-Rodde, women who put their distinctive mark on the field of art bindings.

L’Envers du Music Hall (1926)
L’Envers du Music Hall (1926), one of Rose Adler’s designs.

It is a superb book and one that just fills me with ideas, and reminds me of how much I have yet to learn about this craft I love.

Mme Marot-Rodde
Design by Mme Marot-Rodde. Poems by Maurice Donnay.