Friday, May 04, 2007

Le Japon Artistique

My Dad gave me a book years ago, an encyclopaedia of Japanese Arts, when I first entered the University, in 1979-80, some time before he passed away I think... It's an amazing collection of 3 books dated from 1888, by S. Bing, an art dealer specialised in Art Nouveau and Oriental art. It may be the oldest books I have and, unfortunately, way too heavy to bring it home to Dublin. It's called Le Japon Artistique.

When I was younger I used to sit down at a table and copy some of the patterns reproduced there. It's an invaluable reference. I just found out in my last visit that there is even a chapter on "manga", showing old manga reproductions. Not the manga that we know nowadays, but the manga as is, ie, "irresponsible (whimsical) sketches", inside the large section dedicated to Hokusai. The collection is exquisite, and has everything one needs to know about Japanese Art up to some years after the Meiji era. Lots of text, black and white and coloured plates. Hard it is to preserve such an old book. It is in quite good state, however not perfect. Rio's humidity is to blame for its not-so-perfect condition, but still, if you handle it with care and love you'll gain an endless number of delightful hours. A gem...