A. A. Turbayne
A blue cloth with a gilt pattern
7¼ x 5 inches
This book is one of the ‘Peacock Series’ issued by Macmillan in the mid 90s. Turbayne’s designs were used interchangeably, usually with little regard for the connection between the contents and the binding. The example shown here typifies his brand of exuberant Art Nouveau; the pattern is a sinuous briar, probably a dog-rose, with a muscular stem, radiating leaves and thorns. The heirs of Christmas gift books of the 1860s, Turbayne’s covers of the 90s are luxurious items, taking fine design to the middle-classes. Presenting an organic imagery, they suggest both sophistication (a matter of ‘pure Beauty’ or ‘Art for Art’s Sake’) and the idyllic pleasures of a pre-industrial England. The binding is signed with the artist’s familiar ‘scarab beetle’ monogram, positioned among the leaves in the bottom left hand corner.
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Photograph and text by Simon Cooke
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