“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need” Cicero.
A good library has always been the mark of a well educated Gentleman, a portrait in many ways of it’s owner. Open any book from such a collection and it will invariably have a bookplate. Traditionally armorial but often not.
As an artist who has built a career well over thirty years in the making, producing high quality heraldic art, calligraphy and manuscript illumination I have produced many bookplates. Call me old fashioned but I have always favoured monochrome designs and although I am no etcher or wood block carver I try to recreate the feel of the work such craftsmen have produced superlatively throughout the centuries.
If you would be so kind as to indulge me for a while I would like to share one of my latest works with you. Produced for a returning patron who was attracted to the fluid, decorative and somewhat medieval high gothic style of the Victorians. Encapsulated brilliantly by the artists and architects William Morris and Augustus Pugin.
Victorian gothic style heraldry is instantly recognisable by the complicated and voluptuous acanthus like mantling and so with this creation the mantling was the core of the design and set the foundation for the plate. The patron is an English knight and so the visored helm was used but I needed to make it fit more into the style of the period. This helm of course is a fanciful heraldic helm and so fits with the pseudo gothic very well. Once the design was drawn I settled on the style of execution and I proceeded to give it a wood engraved feel. I obtained this effect by using various drawing pens and brushes of different sizes to create the hatching using a combination of ink and gouache. There is something very therapeutic and almost meditational about working in this way. It takes a great deal of concentration but the end result is quite satisfying.
I presented the patron with the image and awaited a reaction. Even now after all these years I still tend to worry about the response to a work. In this case he was delighted. I quote, “Yet another triumph from your studio”. It is always good to get such a positive feedback to a painting. – Andrew Stewart Jamieson