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I See a Bird Trend Here…

It is officially summer and already temperatures are in the hundreds here in Texas. As a result, I am spending much more time inside and actually getting some work done on my blocks. Through no conscious decision-making, my next design turned out to be another member of the Avian Class of mammals. This time, however, I chose to focus on one of the most popular of birds, the Peacock.

Interestingly, my inspiration for this piece originated in the border of the design. The border is based off a Pencraft Ornamental Border design that I discovered in the 1925 Barhart Brothers & Spindler Type Specimen Book.

I am planning on vectorizing the border and putting up for download, but for now, the above image will have to serve as a place holder. It is a scan from the Specimen Book (p. 385).

The rest of the image followed the border. The border is Art Nouveau and inspired the style of the bird. The peacock is stylized, stressing flowing, curvilinear lines.

The remaining inspiration, Japonism, is only fitting given its popularity among Impressionists and other artists working during the 1880’s-1905 when Art Nouveau was popular. From April 25-May 22, 1890, the École des Beaux-Arts featured a survey exhibition on the history of Japanese woodblock prints.* Many artists, including Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947), Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901), and James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), were profoundly inspired by these prints and began to incorporate elements of East Asian art into their works. This trend proliferated and continues today. The cherry blossom tree in the background of this piece pays homage to the Japonism movement.

Finally, here is the final sketch for the block:

*Source: Elizabeth Hutton Turner, et al., Pierre Bonnard, Early and Late, (Washington D.C.: Philip Wilson Publishers in collaboration with The Philips Collection, 2002), 190.