||né: Edmond Dulac
|born: October 22, 1882 (Toulouse, France)
|became a naturalized British citizen: February 17, 1912
|died: May 25, 1953 (Dorset, England)
|studied art at: École des Beaux-Arts, Académie Julian
|medium: pen & ink, watercolor
By 1905, new advances in color separation made it possible for book publishers to print beautiful illustrations on coated paper. But these “plates” could not be bound with the rest of the volume; they had to be “tipped in” by hand (glued into position on reserved pages of the text). The extra labor and expense that this reproduction process entailed was well worth it, however, because the quality of the final product was unrivaled. Separately printed colors could now be registered with a high degree of precision, and the need for heavy outlines (to trap colors in the event of subtle mis-registration “spills”) was virtually eliminated.
The artwork of the “Golden Age” of children’s book illustration could be more detailed and delicate than ever before, and a wider range of bright, clean colors was attainable. The market for deluxe editions of illustrated gift books boomed … and so, too, did the demand for top-notch artists.
Edmund Dulac had the good fortune to enter the world of book publishing at just the right time. His artistic style, which was heavily influenced by Persian and Indian miniatures and Japanese prints, often made use of delicate lines. And the un-muddied, brilliant, colors that he frequently wove into his designs lent them a wonderful gem-like (or even iridescent) quality.
It is no wonder, then, that Dulac’s first significant commission—60 color illustrations to accompany J.M. Dent’s collected works of the Brontë sisters—was offered to him when he was just 22 years old. •