Though he himself was a distinguished painter and illustrator, Albert-Charles-August Racinet (1825–1893) is best remembered for two monumental color-plate publications he edited: Le Costume historique (Historic Costume) and L'Ornement polychrome (Color Ornament).
L'Ornement polychrome, a visual record in color of ornament and decorative arts from all over the world and throughout history to the end of the 18th century, eventually included 220 plates. The first 100 plates (Series I) appeared in ten installments between 1869 and 1873. A first edition of 5000 copies in volume form was published shortly after the completion of the installments, a second edition appearing as early as 1875.
This edition contains all the plates from Series I, with brief new English captions that summarize the French text. The copious material, ranging from Europe to Oceania and from ancient Egypt to just before 1800, is derived from architecture, painting, woodwork, metalwork, leatherwork, textiles, and many other art forms. Racinet's often-repeated purpose in publishing these decorative masterpieces was the encouragement and improvement of the arts of his own day, not only so-called fine arts but also the commercial arts involved in the designing and selling of manufactured goods. Dover's reissue of the plates, recognizing their perennial value and appeal, naturally is meant to serve the same purpose. Racinet's breadth of insight and catholicity of taste, truly enlightening for his day, give his selection a welcome variety and a consistently high standard of excellence; while the consummate skill of his artistic fellow workers and of his printer/publisher, the celebrated Firmin-Didot company, make these plates true works of art in their own right.
|Dimensions||9 1/4 x 12 1/4|
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