Original Language: French
From the Back Cover
The present Dover edition contains all 120 plates from Racinet's Series II, with brief new English captions that summarize the French text. The copious material, ranging from Ireland to China and from ancient Egypt to the late nineteenth century, is derived from a wide range of arts and crafts including architecture, painting, woodwork, metalwork, ceramics, and textiles. Racinet's purpose in publishing these masterpieces of decoration was the encouragement and improvement of the arts of his own day, not only the so-called fine arts but also the commercial arts involved in the designing and marketing 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 enlightened for his day, give his selection a welcome variety and a consistently high standard of excellence; while the consummate skill of his artistic workers and of his printer-publisher, the celebrated Firmin-Didot Company, make these plates true works of art in their own right.
Racinet's color plates were prepared on the basis of existing works of art by a number of capable commercial artists, identified in the original edition at the lower left-hand corner of each plate. These artists are represented in Series II of L'Ornement Polychrome: Bauer, Benard, Brandin, Charpentier, Chataignon, Cottelot, Daumont, Debenais, Dreus, Durin, Gaulard, Gautier, Guesnu, Lemoine, Lestel, Manoury, Mathieu, Mauler, Meheux, Nordmann, Picard, Schmidt, Spiegel, Taillefer, and Waret.