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The Arts

Study and research on the history of fine, decorative and applied arts at the University of Delaware have always been supported in the library by exceptional collections. The rare book collections sparkle with choice works on furniture such as Thomas Chippendale's The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director (1762) and Charles Eastlake's Hints on Household Taste (1872). Architectural works include William Halfpenny's A New and Compleat System of Architecture Delineated (1749) and Asher Benjamin's The Country Builder's Assistant (1797).

The art of the book is magnificently unveiled in many of the Victorian colorplate books published in England and America. The printing discoveries and techniques that revolutionized printing and the graphic arts in the nineteenth century are proclaimed and analyzed in books, manuals, specimen books, and printers' catalogs. The art and craft of modern fine printing and papermaking can be studied in the archives of the Bird & Bull Press, acclaimed as one of the finest American private presses. The Plough Press is its English equivalent and the archives of this press are also in the manuscript collections.

Alice D. Schreyer
Head, Special Collections

Nathaniel H. Puffer
Assistant Director of Libraries
for Collection Development


L'Academia Todesca dellaArchitectura, Scultura & Pittura. Nuremburg: J. von Sandrart, 1675-79. 2 volumes.

Sandrart was a German artist and writer chiefly remembered for this introduction to the arts of architecture, painting and sculpture. The product of diligent research and magnificent engraving, the volumes contain over 260 full-page or doublespread engraved plates. The text discusses and the plates illustrate etching and engraving, drawing, colors, fresco painting, Roman architecture, city and garden views, and sculpture. There are sections on art collections, a study of iconography, and biographies of individual artists who were Sandrart's contemporaries, including Cranach.

Gift of the University of Delaware Library Associates


Palazzi . di Genova. Antwerp: Enrico e Cornelio Verdusson, 1708.

This architectural pattern book, containing over 130 plans and facades conforming to the rules of Greek and Roman architecture, was Rubens' only work on pure architecture. It was first issued as a series of plates in two parts, Palazzi Moderni di Genova and Palazzi Antichi di Genova, in 1622; subsequent editions appeared in 1652 and 1663.

Gift of the University of Delaware Library Associates


The Universal Penman. London: H. Overton, 1743.

This monumental anthology presented the work of twenty-five contemporary writing masters on over 200 finely engraved plates. Bickham, who studied under the engraver John Sturt (1658-1730) and probably wrote eighteen of the plates in The Universal Penman, intended the work as a practical copy-book for the "Man of Business." His engravings, which contributed to a revival of interest in calligraphy, provide a record of the writing hands in use during the first half of the eighteenth century.

Gift of the University of Delaware Library Associates


American Cookery. Hartford: Printed by Hudson & Goodwin, for the Author, 1796.

First edition of the first cookbook by an American author. Earlier cookbooks printed in this country were reprints of European editions. In her "Preface," the author, identified on the title page as "an American orphan," explains that "this treatise is calculated for the rising generation of females in America . . . who by the loss of their parents, or other unfortunate circumstances, are reduced to the necessity of going into families in the line of domestics." Prior to the eighteenth century, most cookbooks were written by men for men cooks. During the eighteenth century women like Amelia Simmons began to write for women housekeepers, or the lady of the house who would direct the housekeeper's work. In a "Publisher's Note" to a 1937 facsimile edition of this book, only two copies were recorded as extant.

Bequest of Melva B. Guthrie

ASHER BENJAMIN (1773-1845)

The Country Builders Assistant. Greenfield (Massachusetts): Thomas Dickman, 1797.

This is the first edition of the first original American work on architecture. Earlier American architectural imprints were compilations of English material or local editions of works by English authors. Benjamin, an architect who had built houses and churches throughout the Connecticut Valley, was influenced by English sources. His builder's guide spread late colonial design throughout New England. In its many editions, The Country Builder's Assistant is a superb record of popular taste, which it both reflected and influenced, through the early Federal period.


Fragments on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening. By H. Repton, Assisted by his son, J. Adey Repton. London: T. Bensley and Son, 1816.

Humphrey Repton invented the term "landscape gardening" to express his theory that the art requires "the united powers of the landscape painter and the practical gardener." Because he was anxious for his employers to see what he proposed to do, Repton devised an ingenious system of sliding panels. Each plate shows a park or garden in its original condition before Repton's proposed improvements; an overlay lifts or slides back to reveal the altered vista. In the text, Repton discusses the relationship between landscape gardening and architecture in chapters on color, interiors, prospects, water, fences and other subjects.

Bequest of Melva B. Guthrie


A Complete Course of Lithography. London: R. Ackermann, 1819.

Lithography, or writing on stone, was invented by Senefelder, a Bavarian, at the end of the eighteenth century, but it was twenty years before he published this description of it. Senefelder's treatise was first published in Munich and Vienna in 1818 with the title Vollstandiges Lehrbuch der Steindruckery; within a year translations were published in England and France. The work is divided into two parts: the first is a history of the invention and its different processes, while the second provides practical instructions for its application.

England was the first country outside of Germany to have a lithographic press. Rudolph Ackermann, a well-known publisher of aquatint books who issued this first English edition of Senefelder's treatise was, along with artist Charles Hullmandel, largely responsible for bringing lithography to the attention of the English public.


"Visite de Mgr. le Duc d'Amnale a la Croix Rousse dans l'atelier de M. Carquillat, le 24 Aout 1841." 1844. Woven silk tapestry, 28 x 44 inches.

This Jacquard woven silk picture, created in 1844, represents one of the most complex applications of the Jacquard loom. During the nineteenth century, weavings such as this one were highly prized as examples of a weaver's technical virtuosity. The French artist Francois Carquillat was one of the most famous and prolific weavers of silk pictures in Lyons, France, during the nineteenth century. The visit of the Duc d'Amnale depicted includes one of the few existing views of a silk weaver's workshop. The scene illustrates the diplomatic visit of one of Louis Philippe's sons to Carquillat's workshop to appease the politically radical weavers in Lyons. It is significant that, within this scene, Carquillat depicts himself holding his most famous woven portrait, that of Joseph Marie Jacquard, inventor of the Jacquard loom. This workshop scene established Carquillat's reputation as a master weaver.

Gift of Archie Dean, 1972


"The Protestant House that Jack Built," Autograph manuscript signed [London, ca. 1845], 4 pages.

Book illustrator and caricaturist George Cruikshank had a long and prolific career, during which he illustrated contemporary novels by many of the major Victorian novelists, classic novels and political tracts by himself and others. He began as a caricaturist in the tradition of Gillray and Rowlandson, taking the radical side on issues of the day. Beginning about 1850, he devoted the remainder of his life to the causes of temperance and antismoking.

This satirical plea for Protestantism, against what Cruikshank saw as an incursion of papacy into England, was published as a pamphlet in 1845. Cruikshank wrote the text and designed the woodcuts.

Gift of W. Atlee Burpee, Jr.

HENRY SHAW (1800-1873)

Alphabets, Numerals and Devices of the Middle Ages. London: William Pickering, 1845.

Shaw, an antiquary and watercolorist, produced several books on manuscript illumination, medieval and Elizabethan art and architecture. The text of this work was printed by Charles Whittingham, the distinguished printer who worked for publisher Williarn Pickering. Whittingham printed many of the full-page color illustrations using successive wood blocks for each color, and he contracted out plates to be printed from copperplate engraving, because the firm did not do intaglio printing.

Gift of Edith du Pont Pearson In Memory of Lammot du Pont


The Parables of Our Lord. New York: D. Appleton, 1848.

This was the first in a series of original illuminated books by the artist and naturalist Humphreys, who was influenced by his study of medieval manuscripts during a stay in Italy as a young man. The work, a retelling of some New Testament stories, was printed entirely by chromolithography--the text was written out in a script reminiscent of a gothic hand, and the lush borders are based on organic, vegetative forms. The openings alternate between plates of many colors and those of gold and black.

The Parables of Our Lord is the earliest illuminated book known to have appeared in a papier mache binding in the year of its publication. These bindings, which recall carved ebony medieval book covers or the carvings on cathedral choir stalls, were part of the Victorian gothic revival. They were made of black plaster composition over papier mache.

OWEN JONES (1809-1874)

The Grammar of Ornament. London: Day and Son, 1856.

Jones, an architect and ornamental designer who served as superintendent of works at the Great Exhibition of 1851, was instrumental in the application of chromolithography to book illustration. In his travels as a young man he became fascinated by Eastern forms, and the books he published reproducing these patterns influenced the design of English wallpaper, carpets, and furniture.

The Grammar of Ornament, one of the masterpieces of nineteenth-century color printing, is a systematic presentation of ornamental motifs from the ancient world through the Renaissance. There are several thousand examples; each plate depicts a group with common chronological and geographical origins. The individual plates, lithographed by Francis Bedford, are tied together by a unified color scheme. As the title suggests, Jones intended the work to be used as a practical guide and resource for designers, and the introduction includes a set of principles covering "the arrangement of form and color."

E. ADVENO BROOKE (active 1853-1861)

The Gardens of England. London: T. McLean, 1857.

The bold colors of the twenty-four chromolithographic colored plates in this collection brilliantly evoke the visual splendor of gardens in full bloom. The text describes and the views depict gardens in English stately homes; despite the importance of gardens and gardening in the reign of Queen Victoria, this work is a unique contemporary record of the landscape garden styles in vogue in the mansions of mid-Victorian England.

Acquired with the support of the Unidel Foundation


The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer. [Hammersmith: Kelmscott Press, 1896].

William Morris (1834-1896), poet, social reformer, and a leading figure in the Pre-Raphaelite movement, founded the Kelmscott Press in 1891. Named for the Kelmscott Manor House, about thirty miles from Oxford, where he lived, the Kelmscott Press issued a total of 65 volumes between the years 1891 and 1898. Deeply influenced by the beauty and quality of fifteenth-century books, Morris emulated them at the Kelmscott Press. His greatest achievement was The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, printed in 1896 and limited to 425 copies.

The Kelmscott Chaucer was printed in two columns on handmade paper with specially designed large gothic type in red and black, with 87 woodcut illustrations and 116 full-page plates after designs by Sir Edward Burne-Jones, and numerous woodcut borders and initial letters designed for this work by William Morris. The opening double-page dazzles the eye with the sheer richness of its appearance. William Morris was particularly concerned that his books be conceived as a total unity so that the paper, ink, type and decorative motifs had a uniform and complementary style.

William Morris' work had an enormous and beneficial effect on the printers of his time. He led the way back to using unified typography, and he reinstated the book illustrated by one artist and conforming to an overall design. His passion for perfect craftsmanship, his attention to detail, and his success in focusing attention on the craft of printing are his most enduring legacies. The Kelmscott Chaucer is an outstanding example of nineteenth-century book production and one of the most lavishly decorated typographic works of the post-medieval era.

Gift of the University of Delaware Library Associates


Documents Décoratifs. Preface de Gabriel Mourey. Paris: Librairie Centrale des BeauxArts [1902].

Alphonse Mucha did not create Art Nouveau, but his work, especially as a poster artist, came to symbolize the full flowering of the style and the era. Born in Moravia, in what is now part of Czechoslovakia, Mucha worked as a painter of theatrical signs and court murals in Vienna and studied art in Munich. He arrived in Paris in the late 1880s, just as posters were emerging as the most popular art form of the day, due in part to the relatively new color printing process, chromolithography. Mucha struggled to make a living as a graphic artist, producing book illustrations, calendar art and other decorative designs, until he received a commission to do a poster for Sarah Bernhardt in "Gismonda." The poster, which appeared on January 1,1895, marked a sharp break with previous poster design. The legendary Sarah and the public adored it, and its phenomenal success made Mucha a celebrity and the creator of images that embodied an entire era.

Documents Decoratifs published by the Librairie Centrale des Beaux-Arts and printed by Emile Levy, is a visual statement of Mucha's artistic creed. In it he set down the precepts of Art Nouveau and its decorative elements. The portfolio, which contains 72 plates, was used for years by many art schools as a textbook, and it influenced a whole generation of artists.

The English Bible. Hammersmith: The Doves Press, 1903-1905. 5 volumes.

The Doves Press, one of the great early twentieth-century English private presses, was established in 1900 by T. J. Cobden-Sanderson (1840-1922), a friend of William Morris who left his career as a lawyer in mid-life to become a hand bookbinder. Emery Walker (1851-1939), Cobden-Sanderson's partner, was a neighbor of William Morris. In November 1888, Walker delivered a lecture on "Letter Press Printing and Illustration" that inspired Morris; Cobden-Sanderson spoke on bookbinding in the series. Walker designed a type for the press based on a fifteenth-century design. The classic proportions of the Doves Press Bible, which had no illustrations or decorations except for the initial letters by calligrapher Edward Johnston, exemplify Walker's principles of design.

Photograph of the embroidery room at the Dun Emer Industries. [Dundrum, Ireland, ca.1903].

Evelyn Gleeson, who founded the Dun Emer Industries, was especially interested in weaving and tapestry. Lily Yeats, the sister of William Butler Yeats and the director of the embroidery works at the Dun Emer Industries, had studied embroidery under May Morris, the daughter of William Morris. Among those who designed embroideries were the poet A. E. and the artist Jack Yeats, brother of William Butler Yeats.


The Dun Emer Industries. [Dundrum, Ireland: Dun Emer Press, 1903].

Prospectus setting forth the ideals of the Dun Emer Industries. Evelyn Gleeson, who was influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement in England, came to Dublin in the summer of 1902 to found an establishment for the training and employment of young girls. Embroidery and printing were among the industries taught. The press department, directed by Elizabeth Corbet Yeats, published the works of many living Irish writers at a critical time in modern Irish culture and literature, and was a very influential force in its development. After publishing eleven books under the Dun Emer imprint, the name of the press was changed to Cuala in 1908.

JOSEF ALBERS (1888-1976)

Interaction of Color. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1963.

One of 50 copies printed by Carl Purlington Rollins. German-born American abstract artist, color theorist and teacher Josef Albers was one of the original teachers in the German Bauhaus. He produced this portfolio of 80 color folders to demonstrate that "a color has many faces." Albers arranged the sample studies to present a series of subtle relationships much like those he explored in his own paintings. Among the principles he sought to illustrate were reversed grounds, transparencies, space and vibrating boundaries. In the accompanying text, Albers explained that since "color deceives continually" he developed this experimental way to study and teach color through a series of practical exercises. Albers, who taught at Yale and lectured widely, combined the careers of teacher and painter so that his paintings demonstrate his theories and his theories draw upon his discoveries in design and color.


Nagashizuki: The Japanese Craft of Hand Papermaking. North Hills, Pennsylvania: Bird & Bull Press, 1979.

One of 300 copies printed by Henry Morris on "Nagashizuki" paper made at the Bird & Bull Press. Timothy Barrett, a young papermaker and historian of papermaking, traveled around Japan, visiting the artisans who preserve the traditions of hand papermaking. In this work, dedicated "to the early craftsmen, Eastern and Western, who produced some of the most durable, honest, and attractive papers we will ever know," he focuses on the technical processes of how paper is made in Japan. He discusses, among other topics, raw fiber production and the advantages of fiber from young mulberry trees.


Pen-and-ink drawing [Japan, ca.1979].

When Timothy Barrett was in Japan, he met the artist Richard Flavin, who had studied advertising art and graphic design in America, then woodblock printing in Tokyo. Flavin's illustrations were printed by Henry Morris' Bird & Bull Press in Barrett's Nagashizuki: The Japanese Craft of Hand Papermaking the drawing shown here appears opposite the opening of the chapter on "The Craft in Japan: Past, Contemporarby, and Future."

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