Ornamental Arts of Japan, The

The “Most Perfect View of Japanese Art”
And a Key Reference

AUDSLEY, George Ashdown. The Ornamental Arts of Japan. London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington, 1882-84.

First edition in book form, originally issued in parts. Two folio volumes. (12, ), v, ((3), 41, 12, 25, 44; (6), 8, 30, 32, 29, 27, 10 Index pp. Two frontispieces in red and black. Thirty-three black and white heliogravure plates. Seventy chromolithograph plates with tissue guards. Black and white text illustrations throughout. Decorated initials. All leaves mounted on stubs.

Full burgundy morocco over beveled boards by Palmer Howe & Co. of Manchester. Spines in six compartments with five raised bands ruled in gilt. Gilt ruled borders, edges, and turn-ins. All edges gilt. Joints of voulme expertly and almost invisibly repaired. An excellent set.

Contains text and plates in nine sections on painting, embroidery, textiles, lacquer, incrusted work, metal-work, cloisonné enamel, modeling and carving, and heraldry, With extensive notes on unpaginated leaves opposite each plate.

The exquisite plates were published by Sampson, Low & Co., and printed by Lemercier & cie., Paris, and W. Greve Berlin.

“On its superb plates all the resources of MM. Lemercier of Paris have been lavished, and the best qualities of the chromo-lithographic and heliogravure processes have been developed in delineating the art of the extreme East, especially its incrusted work” (Ath. 3077, in Allibone).

“In this splendid work…we have the most perfect view of Japanese art which has yet been published. No effort has been spared, either by author or publisher, to produce this satisfactory result. The collections of Europe and America have been ransacked to supply the finest examples for illustration, the most skillful lithographers of Paris and Berlin have been employed to furnish the plates, and the aid of the most learned students of Japan and her arts has been called in to assist the cultivated connoisseurship of the author” (Acad., xxx, 141, in Allibone).

George Ashdown Audsley (1838-1925) was ” a Scottish architect, designer and writer. He was among the earliest publishers to exploit the graphic potential of chromolithography, and, contrary to other major books on ornament, he made a case for classifying designs by their basic motif rather than by nationality. He was an expert on Japanese art, lecturing on the subject and between 1870 and 1884 producing several books that proved influential as sources for japonaiserie, among them Keramic Art of Japan and The Ornamental Arts of Japan. In the 1890s he produced with Maurice Ashdown Audsley an ambitious guide entitled The Practical Decorator and Ornamentalist. In 1892 he moved to New York, where he continued to produce handbooks on applied ornament, turning and stencilling with his son Berthold Audsley” (Grove Dictionary of Art).

This grand work has been hailed as the most beautiful art book of the late 19th century.

Avery Catalogue, p. 34. Allibone supplement, p. 61. Cordier 628. Item #00934

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