Wednesday, June 20, 2012

47. English art and the Netherlands

Rythmus, a yearbook for the study of the fin de siècle, was published earlier this month. It contains twelve essays about English art and literature in relation to art and literature in the Netherlands and Belgium around 1900: Lopende vuurtjes (publisher: Verloren). The contributions are based on papers given at a conference in Groningen (see my blog of 14 September 2011).
Cover of Lopende vuurtjes (2012)

The essays are divided into two categories, one of which is concerned with 'tranfer'; the second theme is 'integration'.  My essay is about the integration of the private press movement in the Netherlands. The abstract reads:

Between the foundation of the first modern private press, William Morris's Kelmscott Press (1890), and the foundation of the first Dutch private press, De Zilverdistel (1910), the private press ideals were introduced in the Netherlands. In the process these ideas were transformed, English ideas were translated into Dutch practices and only partly realized by a small number of presses. A lively debate on modern typography ensued, and the relation between professionals and amateur printers was difficult: the private press was seen by some as a superfluous movement. In this essay, the transition of the private press ideas from the United Kingdom to the Netherlands is described from a personal, semantic and technical perspective. Generation gaps, terminological evolutions, and technical developments influenced the outcome. Contacts between British and Dutch artists were frequently based on one-way traffic, and fuelled by a conscious transnationalism. Delaying factors were diverging literary and artistic goals, as well as divergent commercial motifs. In both countries the ideals of the private press contributed to the design in commercial publishing and the ideals in book design were realized by the 1950s.

The essay frequently mentions the names of Ricketts and Shannon, as the Netherlands is the only country where Ricketts and Shannon were written about earlier than the founder of the Kelmscott Press. However, after his death in 1896, Morris became the major influence on book design for a while, until his books went out of fashion and the pages of Cobden-Sanderson, whose pure typography was better suited to the Dutch taste, became a model of fine printing.

Paul van Capelleveen, 'Van private press naar eigen pers en retour. De introductie van de private press-gedachte in Nederland, 1890-1930', in: Lopende vuurtjes. Engelse kunst en literatuur in Nederland en België rond 1900. Anne van Buul (ed.) Hilversum, Verloren, 2012, p. 197-214, colour plate 11.