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Heralded Art Deco designer Pierre Legrain (1889–1929) was a part of a celebrated era of French bookbinding and design. Legrain’s bookbinding talents were encouraged by his patron Jacques Doucet, a French bibliophile, couturier, and renowned collector. Before the First World War Legrain had designed furniture for Doucet, and after leaving the French Army in 1916 he was once again put to work, this time to design unique bindings for the contents of Doucet’s impressive library.
Despite having no formal training in the art form, Legrain crafted a series of trailblazing designs which would revolutionize the world of French bookbinding. This was largely thanks to Doucet’s attitude of experiment, advising Legrain to be “freely inspired by contemporary artists’ vibrantly colored mosaics, bold play with geometric forms, and straight lined bands”—which are evident in this design. Highlighting key elements of his artistic style, the triangles, trapezoids, and zigzagging lines all give a sense of movement to the heavy geometric shapes.
Today this modern mosaic design is a part of The New York Public Library's Spencer Collection of fine bindings and illustrated books. It is truly a monumental piece of bookbinding history.
The New York Public Library's collections contain millions of prints, photographs, maps, objects, manuscripts, and posters. Many of the items in our vast archives are accessible online - learn more at digitalcollections.nypl.org.
Dim: 7.25" x 1.5"
Item number: 8233-0