If flowers and foliage can be said to speak, it is surely through the voice of botanical illustrators. Our Painted Botanicals journals feature images of orchids, wisteria, lilies and daisies, rendered by some of the finest illustrators in the history of the field.
Original Artwork: Rabindranath Tagore’s handwritten Verse 44 from Gitanjali
Era: Early 1900s
In the space where intellect and heart combine is where you will find the writings of Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941). A Bengali polymath, Tagore reshaped his culture’s literature and music by bringing in Contextual Modernism to the traditional prose and verse structures.
By spurning rigid classical linguistic forms, Tagore was able to reach readers around the world on a level both emotional and spiritual. In 1910 he released Gitanjali, his most beloved collection of poems. “This is my delight,” writes Tagore in Verse 44, the ecstatic piece filled with both laughter and tears that is reproduced on our cover. Even in verses as short as this, Tagore was able to share his enlightened soul and impactful presence. There is little doubt as to why, in 1913, Gitanjali became the first non-European work awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Today, his expressive writings continue to influence and inspire, and his legacy endures in the Visva-Bharati University in West Bengal, which he founded in 1921.
A Venetian morning is alight with marvels. From sunlight sparkling on water to the startling hues of incomparable architecture, Venice enchants the eye from first light to last gloaming. We have captured some of the splendid daybreak palette of the ancient city with these four striking covers.
Original Artwork: Binding for The Treatise on Colours
Era: circa 1600
Region: Venice, Italy
Franz Peter Schubert (1797–1828) was born in Austria to a musical family who imbued him with a love of the lied – a nineteenth-century style of German art song. It was his appreciation for this artistic form that led Schubert to bring the poetry of Goethe to the stage.
Success did not come easily for Schubert, though he trained under Antonio Salieri and surrounded himself with talented friends. He was extremely prolific during his short life, composing over 600 secular vocal pieces and seven complete symphonies, yet his work was left vastly unpublished and underperformed. It wasn’t until 1831 when the prominent baritone Johann Michael Vogl brought to life Der Erlkönig, Schubert’s complex and riveting adaptation of Goethe’s poem reproduced here, that his work for the stage began to be noticed and celebrated.
Der Erlkönig remains one of the most popular lieder composed during this time, with its dramatic content and eloquent piano figurations of the furious and ceaseless horse’s gallop. Schubert’s appetite for experimentation may have been too cutting edge for audiences of his day, but it truly set the stage for the bold and inventive artists who followed.