Curator’s Choice: Art Nouveau Picture Books with Beautiful Endpapers

Mr. Cotsen could never pass by a really good example of an Art Nouveau picture book.  At their best, the illustrations, decorations, bindings, and endpapers come together as a whole and I have always thought that appealed to him as a master packager (the original concept for Neutrogena products was all his).   Here are four examples of German, Swiss, and Viennese picture books with especially striking endpaper designs.

Below is volume 3 of Jugendland (1903), a periodical for boys and girls edited by Heinrich Moser and Ulrich Kohlbrunner that was published by the Swiss firm Künzli.  Its binding design, the endpapers, and title page are all executed by illustrator and caricaturist Arpad Schmidhammer (1857-1921). He got his start contributing to annuals like Jugendland and Knecht Ruprecht, but is perhaps better known for his propagandistic picture books like Lieb Vaterland magst ruhig sein.

Front cover Cotsen 18814

Front cover
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endpapers Cotsen 18814

Endpapers
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Titlepage Cotsen 18814

Title page
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The illustrations for the binding, endpapers and title page of Gartenlaube-Bilderbuch der deutscher Jugend (1902), on the other hand, are more uniform in style and subject than those for Jugendland.  The picture on the front board is by Hermann Kaulbach (1846-1909), a well-known painter famous for idealized pictures of children.  No credits are given for the endpapers or title vignette, but someone made sure that the theme of books and reading was repeated on the title page.

Front cover Cotsen 91566

Front cover
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Endpapers
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Title page Cotsen 91566

Title page
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Except for the goblin’s eyes peeking out of the “O,” the cloth boards of O Hastromanvi [The Goblin] (Prague: B. Koči, 1903) by Jožena Schwaigerová are conventional compared with the patterned endpapers.  Both the binding design and endpapers contrast sharply with the rather severe title page, with the bold type cutting deeply into the thick paper.  Whoever drew the repeat of frogs and pearls is not identified, so perhaps it was also the work of the Bohemian illustrator Hanus Schwaiger (1854-1909) who did the delightfully creepy pictures for the story.

Front cover Cotsen 44194

Front cover
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Endpapers Cotsen 44194

Endpapers
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Title page
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There’s a frog prince on the front board of Ernst Dannheiser’s Miaulina: Ein Märchenbuch für kleine Kinder (Cologne: Schaffstein, 1902), but he hasn’t got any pearls on his crown. Illustrator Julius Diez (1870-1953) let his imagination run wild in this collection of fairy tales. In the book, the tales are told to an industrious little girl by the cat Miaulina, who is shown with a satchel over one shoulder. There is the repeat of the pine tree men and red squirrels on the endpapers, an added illustrated title page where Miaulina eyes little mice watering the garden, and title page dominated by the figure of a fantastically dressed Moorish slave boy, who bears Miaulina on a pillow amidst a riot of exotic birds.  And I left out the illustrated vignettes of the poor veteran mouse begging in the cold and the jaunty little fellow riding a rooster, not to mention the frame of mice, beetles and weird rootmen enclosing the table of contents!

Front cover Cotsen 150184

Front cover
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Endpapers Cotsen 150184

Endpapers
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Decorative title page Cotsen 150184

Decorative title page
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Title page Cotsen 150184

Title page
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These exuberant picture books may be over the top, but their packaging gives contemporary bindings of laminated boards, or sober cloth backstrip and boards covered in a contrasting color, a run for their money…