The catalogs of the Paris Salons from the turn of the century provide a unique archive of illustrations of the decorative arts at a pivotal time in their development. Of the titles in Alastair Duncan's monumental magnum opus (Jewelry, Furniture, Ceramics & Glass, and Objects d'Art & Metalware), this is probably the most important. Wear and tear over the years mean that very few of the pieces illustrated here have survived outside museum collections or appeared at auction.
The fabric designers of the Art Nouveau style who exhibited at the Paris Salons produced a remarkable oeuvre in printed and woven fabrics: silk, satin, damask, brocade, and linens. Lace-making also flourished, and exquisite fashion and domestic pieces, from collars to net curtains, were made in a seemingly endless range of styles, while equally stunning mixed embroideries and tapestries were commissioned, many for government buildings.
Leather bookbinding, long a preserve of traditionalists, saw dramatic developments with bibliophiles ordering unique bindings from artist-designers, who also created imaginative non-bound leather goods.
Alastair Duncan examines the position of both the textile and bookbinding industries at the end of the 19th century, and the public and critical reaction to their changing and developing practices during the Art Nouveau period.
The thousands of images in this volume, over 50 in full color, are the result of the enthusiasm and initiative of designers and craftsmen to explore and exploit new styles, new materials and new processes of manufacture. The inspiration and resource these pieces offer to present-day dealers is incalculable.