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Electroplate Book Cover (1896) — left: front cover; right: back cover — by Lilian Simpson (c.1871-97). Private collection. Electrosilver plated. Signed Art union of London 1st January 1896 on tail edge of upper cover towards the spine. British Library catalogue says covering material is seal, Marianne Tidcombe (Women Bookbinders, p. 89) says goatskin. Stamped on front, back and spine: “Art Union of London 1896.”

On the second page of the album is written:

ALBUM The Cover which encloses these pages was designed and modelled by Miss M. Lilian Simpson, on a commission from the Council of the Art Union of London, and gained for the Artist a gold medal in the National Competition of all the Schools of Art under the Science and Art Department in 1894. It was exhibited in the Royal Academy in 1896.

The idea embodied in the design is that of the growth of Life (represented by the flowering and fruit) watched over by Spirits (shown in the eight angles), whilst Love (the central figure) kisses the buds into bloom, and, as shown on the clasp, binds together the pages of the Book of Life.

THIS WORK ISSUED TO THE MEMBERS OF THE ART UNION OF LONDON 1896

Left to tight: (a) Spine with Art Nouveau angel or spirit. (b) Pages and clasp. (c) Clasp with angel. (d) First page of Album (cropped — see larger image). (e) Spirit watching over the flowering and fruit.


Love bringing the plants to life in the midst of an Art Nouveau design.

References

British Library Database of bookbindings. Web. April 2011. Shelfmark c108aaa1.

Tidcombe, Marianne. Women Bookbinders, 1880-1920, . London, 1996.


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Last modified 25 April 2011