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AN ILLUMINATED WATERCOLOR ON PAPER, WITH GOLD HIGHLIGHTING by  Artist  DA LORIA - ca. 1920 - from Phillip J. Pirages Fine Books and Medieval Manuscripts (SKU: STCJW1801)


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This seller has earned a 5 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers.
McMinnville, Oregon
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About This Item

ca. 1920. Image: 150 x 225 mm. (5 7/8 x 8 7/8"); frame: 255 x 330 mm. (10 x 13"). Attractively matted and framed. A BEAUTIFUL FULL-PAGE ILLUMINATION DEPICTING THE FOUR SEASONS, personified and surrounding a central figure with halo and wings, decorative surroundings incorporating elemental motifs reminiscent of stained glass techniques, embellished with gilt, the whole enclosed by a decorative gilt border. Signed by the artist in the lower right corner. See: Cynthia Norman, "Biography of da Loria (Belle Elkin) Mitchell Norman," reproduced on askART. IN PRISTINE CONDITION. This is a memorable illuminated scene from a versatile artist of the Arts & Crafts movement, a woman lauded by her contemporaries, and with a style highly reminiscent of that of William Blake. Although Norman worked in numerous media, including oils, watercolor, needlework, and murals, she was best known for her exquisite illuminations. The present work is an outstanding example of her fine work in that medium, possibly executed with a book in mind, or perhaps created as a stand-alone painting. It illustrates the four seasons as nymph-like beings, swirling around a central angelic figure. The four elements are also represented in a beautiful array of patterns framing the central image; the whole seems to have been inspired by Medieval enamelwork. Like much of Norman's output, this image is decidedly poetic in appearance: precisely executed, everywhere in motion, and an abundant source of pleasure for the eye. Our artist's major commissions were illuminations of a similar type, including a copy of the Chiswick Press "Confessions of St. Augustine" for William H. Clark, as well as vellum copies of "Ecclesiastes" and "Song of Solomon" for the New York Public Library. Her work was also sought after by binders like Riviere & Son, for whom she decorated bindings and illuminated a copy of the "Rubaiyat" of Omar Khayyam. Norman's artistic proclivities are often compared to William Blake's; in addition to obvious stylistic similarities and love of expressive imagery, both found inspiration in the internal experience of their religion and even claimed to have had visions. Entirely self-taught, Norman was praised by several prominent contemporary figures in the art world for her precocious talent. Walter Crane called her "an artist of remarkable imaginative feeling . . . doing distinguished work in both painting and decorative design." Sir William Blake Richmond, responsible for the mosaic decoration in St. Paul's Cathedral, said, "So highly do I esteem her decorative designs that I put them side by side with the best work of that nature." Despite being one of the only successful female book illuminators in the early 20th century, sought after by top-tier private and institutional clients alike, Norman's work is surprisingly unknown today and well deserving of rediscovery.


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Phillip J. Pirages Fine Books and Medieval Manuscripts US (US)
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Date published
ca. 1920

Terms of Sale

Phillip J. Pirages Fine Books and Medieval Manuscripts

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About the Seller

Phillip J. Pirages Fine Books and Medieval Manuscripts

Seller rating:
This seller has earned a 5 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers. member since: 2006
McMinnville, Oregon
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About Phillip J. Pirages Fine Books and Medieval Manuscripts

Phillip J. Pirages Fine Books an Manuscripts was established in 1978 on a ping pong table in a basement in Kalamazoo, Michigan. From the beginning, its founder was willing to sell a range of material (both because this approach made the work more educational than otherwise and because it gave him a good excuse for not being an expert in any particular specialty). Over the years, the business has gravitated toward historical artifacts that are physically attractive in some way--illuminated material, fine bindings, books printed on vellum, fore-edge paintings, beautiful typography and paper, impressive illustration. Today, the company still sells a wide range of things, from (scruffy) ninth century leaves to biblical material from all periods to Wing and STC imprints to modern private press books to artists' bindings. While we are forgiving about condition when something is of considerable rarity, we always try to obtain the most attractive copies possible of whatever we offer for sale.


Some terminology that may be used in this description includes:

Vellum is a sheet of specialty prepared skin of lamb, calf, or goat kid used for binding a book or for printing and writing. ...[more]
The decorative application of gold or gold coloring to a portion of a book on the spine, edges of the text block, or an inlay in...[more]
A new book is a book previously not circulated to a buyer. Although a new book is typically free of any faults or defects,...[more]
A book in fine condition exhibits no flaws. A fine condition book closely approaches As New condition, but may lack the...[more]