Delirium: The Art of the Symbolist Book at The Morgan Library & Museum, January 20 – May 14, 2017

“The Symbolist movement coalesced during the second half of the nineteenth century amidst the era’s artistic emphasis on representing objective reality. Writers in France and Belgium sought a new form of art—one that invoked the visible world purely as symbols that correlate to the ineffable world of ideas and states of mind. They emphasized subjectivity above all, expressed through a nuanced language of reverie, delirium, mysticism, and ecstasy. For the Symbolists, literature was akin to music: it suggests meaning rather than defines it and is realized through the memories, involuntary associations, and emotions provoked by the text, peculiar to each individual reader.

The Symbolists’ revolt against naturalism and their emphasis on suggestiveness and self-expression resonated with contemporary painters, who translated these ideas to visual art. Collaborations with Symbolist writers in publications presented artists with a paradox—to create imagery, fixed in print, for works deliberately detached from explicit meaning or concrete reality. Their disparate attempts to meet this challenge helped to liberate illustration from its purely representational role, introducing in its place a parallelism or dialogue between text and image and inviting readers to take more active roles in making meaning. These developments informed the evolution of the modern livre d’artiste and reverberate in the art of the book today.” — Introductory Wall Text

Baudelaire, Charles, 1821-1867, Les fleurs du mal / par Charles Baudelaire, Paris : Poulet-Malassis et De Broise, 1857, title page and frontispiece, Heineman 40

Charles Baudelaire (French, 1821–1867), Édouard Manet (French, 1832–1883), Les fleurs du mal, Portrait, Paris: Poulet-Malassis et de Broise, 1857. The Morgan Library & Museum.

Baudelaire, Charles, 1821-1867. Les epaves / Amsterdam : A l'enseigne du coq, 1866, frontispiece illustration by Félicien Rops, PML 138015 (foxing removed)

Félicien Rops, artist (Belgian, 1833–1898), Charles Baudelaire (French, 1821–1867), Les épaves, Amsterdam [i.e., Brussels: Poulet-Malassis], 1866. The Morgan Library & Museum.

Gilkin, Iwan, 1858-1924. Tenebres / Bruxelles : Edmond Deman, 1892, frontispiece and title page stitched together, PML 140767

Odilon Redon, artist (French, 1840–1916), Iwan Gilkin (Belgian, 1858–1924), Ténèbres, Brussels: Edmond Deman, 1892. The Morgan Library & Museum.

Redon, Odilon, 1840-1916, Centaure lisant [drawing], 19th century, recto, Thaw Collection (EVT 243)

Odilon Redon (1840-1916), Centaure lisant, 19th century, Charcoal on light brown paper. The Morgan Library & Museum, Thaw Collection.

Gide, Andre, 1869-1951. Le voyage d'Urien / Paris : Librairie de l'art independant, 1893, p. 48 lithograph by Maurice Denis, PML 140769

Maurice Denis, artist (French, 1870–1943), André Gide (French, 1869–1951), Le voyage d’Urien, Paris: Librairie de l’art indépendant, 1893. The Morgan Library & Museum.

Jarry, Alfred, 1873-1907. Cesar antechrjst / [Paris] : Editio[n] dv Mercvre de Fra[n]ce, 1895, title page, PML 195786.

Alfred Jarry (French, 1873–1907), César antechrist, Paris: Édition du Mercure de France, 1895. The Morgan Library & Museum.

L'art et l'idee : revue contemporaine illustree. Paris : Quantin, 1892, plate by Felix Vallotton facing p. 115, PML 196031-2

Félix Vallotton (Swiss, 1865–1925), Portrait of Paul Verlaine, 1891, In L’Art et l’Idée (Paris: Quantin, 1892). The Morgan Library & Museum.

Verhaeren, Emile, 1855-1916. Les villes tentaculaires. [Bruxelles, E. Deman, 1895], front cover, Heineman 600

Théo van Rysselberghe, artist (Belgian, 1862–1926), Emile Verhaeren (Belgian, 1855–1916), Les villes tentaculaires, Brussels: Deman, 1895. The Morgan Library & Museum.

Schwob, Marcel, 1867-1905. La porte des reves / Paris : Pour les Bibliophiles independants chez Henry Floury, 1899, plate facing p. 28 , illustration by Georges de Feure, PML 129544

Georges de Feure, artist (French, 1868– 1943), Marcel Schwob (French, 1867– 1905), La porte des rêves, Paris: Pour les Bibliophiles indépendants chez Henry Floury [Octave Uzanne], 1899. The Morgan Library & Museum.

Schreiner, Olive, 1855-1920. Reves / Paris : E. Flammarion, 1912, front cover, illustation by Carlos Schwabe, PML 143985, (adjusted with extra white on all sides)

Carlos Schwabe, artist (Swiss, 1866– 1926), Olive Schreiner (South African, 1855–1920), Rêves, Paris: Flammarion, 1912. The Morgan Library & Museum.

Elskamp, Max, 1862-1931, Dominical / Max Elskamp ; propitiatoirement orne par Henry van de Velde, [Anvers] : [J.-E. Buschmann], [1892], oodcut-illustrated pale mauve wrappers, designed by Henry van de Velde, PML 196255

Henry Van de Velde, artist (Belgian, 1863–1957), Max Elskamp (Belgian, 1862–1931), Dominical, Anvers: [s.n.], 1892. The Morgan Library & Museum.

Rodenbach, Georges, 1855-1898. Les vierges. Illustrated by Jozsef Rippl-Ronai. [Paris : S. Bing, 1895], plate 3, PML 196074. [Paris : S. Bing, 1895], PML 196074

József Rippl-Rónai, artist (Hungarian, 1861–1927), Georges Rodenbach (Belgian, 1855–1898), Les vierges, Paris: Siegfried Bing, 1895. The Morgan Library & Museum.

Rodenbach, Georges, 1855-1898. Les tombeaux. [Paris : S. Bing, 1895], front cover illustration by Jozsef Rippl-Ronai, PML 196073

József Rippl-Rónai, cover artist (Hungarian, 1861–1927), Georges Rodenbach (Belgian, 1855–1898), Les tombeaux, illustrated by James Pitcairn-Knowles, Paris: S. Bing, 1895. The Morgan Library & Museum.

Verlaine, Paul, 1844-1896. Parallelement Paris : Imprimerie Nationale A. Vollard, 1900, pages 66 and 67 stitched together, illustration by Pierre Bonnard, PML 77284

Pierre Bonnard, artist (French, 1867–1947), Paul Verlaine (French, 1844–1896), Parallelèment, Paris: Ambroise Vollard, 1900. The Morgan Library & Museum.

This exhibition is organized by Sheelagh Bevan, Andrew W. Mellon Assistant Curator in the Morgan’s Department of Printed Books & Bindings.

Images courtesy The Morgan Library & Museum.