Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Les Fleurs Animees (The Flowers Personified)

I was going to write about these prints some time closer to spring but when I was outside this morning, looking at the ground to see if the snowdrops might be coming up soon...well, spring may be two months away but not when it comes to my thoughts. At least the days are getting longer.

These hand-colored prints from 1867 were created by J J Grandville. There are many different editions of these prints published in different languages and sizes. I just started collecting the ones from 1867 because they were the easiest ones to find. 

Each print was sold separately (to be bound in book form later) and accompanied with a story about that flower. The premise behind this collection of 52 illustrated flowers was that the flowers were tired of humans comparing all of their emotions to flowers (especially in their poetry). They wanted to see how true the human perceptions were if the flowers were allowed to become human. Interesting concept, but the translated stories are not nearly as interesting as the illustrations. 

The prints were hand-colored and some areas were coated with gum arabic to give them a sheen. In this portrait of the grapevine (which represents "intoxication"), the grape leaf outfit and the grapes she's holding have been varnished with the gum arabic.

I love the combination of the stylistic beautiful with the realistic observation of the natural (Those bugs! Love them!).

Click on the images to see them larger. Sorry about the slight fuzziness but I had to photograph them through glass. :-)


Mental P Mama said...

Beautiful images. As always;)

shara said...

I think these are my favorites thus far. I love them- and, I know the flowers would not appreciate this- they really do evoke an emotional response in me!

Country Girl said...

I would not have known that you'd photographed them through glass if you hadn't told us.
They are exquisite! And that last one with the bug, wow! I also love the little scarf on the bird in the grapevine print. Tres jaunty.

Maria said...

I know. Aren't these prints cool? But I only collected the pretty flowers. There are some downright scary ones when you look at the flowers that are poisonous. Eeeeeee.

Julie said...

Hi Maria,
I love these too - just gorgeous! I posted about these awhile back here:

There is a link in my post to another site that has the whole book shown ~ check it out!

Maria said...

Julie-thanks for the link. Panteek (I just visited your site to find your mentioned link) is a wonderful dealer and if anyone is interested in seeing more of these prints, eBay is another great source.

There is a range of prices for these prints depending on each print's popularity (the rose is usually the most expensive) but sometimes if you're lucky, you can get some of these 150+ year old prints for around 20 bucks. Make sure they're originals. For some reason, recently printed reproductions will appear on eBay for more than the originals. I'm not sure what's up with that.

There is an earlier version (1847?) that has added gold to the designs. Really pretty. Sometimes those show up on eBay too.

Thanks for the info, Julie. :-D