Our graduate intern Sarah, who usually does our Decorative Sunday posts, but is laid off for the summer, as are all student employees at our institution because of the coronavirus situation, also works at the Milwaukee Public Library (MPL) and she recently sent us these stunning images of Émile-Allain Séguy‘s portfolio of Papillons housed in MPL’s Rare Book Room. The portfolio consists of 20 pochoir–colored lithographic plates of butterflies in the Art Deco style published in Paris ca. 1925
by Tolmer Editeur.
French artist Émile-Allain Séguy
(1877-1951), often abbreviated as E. A.
Séguy, is very often and understandably confused with his unrelated contemporary
(1890-1985), who just happened to be an entomologist and an
illustrator of insects himself. Even the English-language Wikipedia entry on Eugène Séguy seems to conflate the two, claiming that Eugène’s illustrations used the pochoir method to produce his illustrations in limited editions, which is actually the method of
Émile-Allain Séguy. Sara tells us there is an essay called “Insect Men” by Timothy Young that describes this case of mistaken identity.
produced a number of decorative arts portfolios in the 1920s, and Sarah also reminds us that because the vibrancy of the plates is even more dazzling than how they appear online, one should really view them in person. Seek them out at a library or rare book collection near you, or when it’s safe to emerge from isolation and you happen to be in Milwaukee, please make an appointment with our friends over at Milwaukee Public Library’s Art, Music & Recreation Department to look at several of
Séguy’s portfolios! In the meantime: