Art Nouveau, the Belle Epoque

European book covers offer a different perspective on familiar artistic styles, with new approaches to design and materials.

The large Reznicek-Album books below are a case in point. Many Americans are unfamiliar with La Belle Epoque (“the Beautiful Age”), which originated in France but was experienced throughout Western Europe from 1880 to the beginning of World War I. A time of peace, prosperity, economic growth and optimism, it was characterized by a joie de vivre and symbolized by cabarets, theatres, music halls, and the iconic can-can dancers of the Moulin Rouge.

 

Virginia Woolf and the Hogarth Press

“The Hogarth Press was a British printing press founded by Virginia and Leonard Woolf in 1917. The Woolfs originally started the press, which was set up in the dining room of Hogarth House, where the Woolfs lived, as a hobby for Virginia. Since Virginia was slowly recovering from a series of mental breakdowns at the time, Leonard felt the manual labor of running the press would give her something to occupy her mind when she wasn’t writing. Virginia and Leonard also hoped to use the press to self-publish their own work, since they found dealing with editors frustrating and they wanted to be free from censorship.

The Woolfs bought the small, used hand press from the Excelsior Printing Supply Company on March 23 in 1917 for the price of £19 ($24.00). They had no prior knowledge of how to work the machine and learned everything they needed to know from a 16-page pamphlet.”

Rebecca Beatrice Brooks. “The History of Hogarth Press.” The Virginia Woolf Blog. January 7, 2013.

Monday or Tuesday by Virginia Woolf, 1921.

Cover illustration/design by Vanessa Bell

Published by Leonard and Virginia Woolf at The Hogarth Press, Hogarth House, Richmond. First edition of this collection of 8 stories, limited to 1000 copies. Decorated with four woodcuts by Virginia’s sister, Vanessa Bell, an English painter, interior designer, and member of the Bloomsbury Group, she was a frequent designer of book jackets and illustrator for The Hogarth Press.

 A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf, 1946.

 Iconic dust jacket with a woodcut design by Vanessa Bell.

1946 printing of the American Edition. First published in the U.K. in 1929 by Hogarth Press.

 

 

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