Sunday, January 27, 2013

There be Dragons

A Changing of the Guard

Although my life is steeped in books, I try to not rely on "book review" type of columns for this blog. Once in a while I encounter a volume special and unique, and it can't be helped. This tale—however—marks a transition of sorts, and that change is almost as worthwhile a discussion (although another one all together) as the art that brought it to my attention.

But first, this new batch of art. A few years back a portfolio of naturalist-type plates was brought to my attention at Dover Publications. They were big plates, nearly 30 of them, and in a wide range of color. (Chromalithographs, not process color)  From 1896-1909. Some incredible fish, crustaceans, and birds. The real surprise was that there were dragons. Worked in, right with all this terrific real world stuff, were a nice range of different types of dragons with an Art Nouveau flair. Killer stuff, really.

Finding info about the artist, Anton Seder (1850-1916), isn't easy. He was from Munich, and did a number of botanical and zoological plate sets, some in conjunction with other artists. in 1890 he became the Director at The College of Decorative Arts in Strasbourg (France or Germany, depending on the period) for twenty-six years(?). One has to wonder what inspired the addition of the fantasy element in this set, but it's very refreshing for the period. (a nice bunch of decorative samples)


OK. But that's not the transition I'm talking about.
The difference here, is that the set was released by Dover last month, but only in digital form. You can get it in all it's hi-res glory, for just a few bucks, but it's not in print.

If you are not aware, Dover is selling it's image libraries online now, by page or by collection. As you might expect, all of its clip art that has been available on disc, is now available there. But now, new material, never before available, including Anton Seder's Dragons (& company) is available as well. And new collections will be added constantly. So if you enjoy digging through images of all kinds (If you didn't, you wouldn't be here) keep an eye on

The site is still in development, but improvements are happening constantly. If you have a suggestion for the site, contact them there.

Plates from this and other Seder sets, from an art dealer—


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