Art Nouveau watercolor designs for lamps and lighting fixtures

The Rakow Research Library is pleased to announce the acquisition of a portfolio of 48 original watercolor designs from the studio of E. Cazes Dessins, circa 1912, for lamps and light fixtures in Art Nouveau style.

Detail of a watercolor design for a lighting fixture (CMGL 138909)

Detail of a watercolor design for a lighting fixture (CMGL 138909)

The portfolio cover is green (15” X 11”), and embossed in red and black ink with the title, Luminaire: Bronze, Bois, Fer. A trade card mounted inside the front cover reads, “E. Cazes Dessins, 8 Avenue de Petit-Parc, Vincennes.”

Handwritten description on CMGL 138909

Handwritten description on
CMGL 138909

Inside, each design plate has an uncolored stamp with the studio’s logo, and all but three of the 48 bear handwritten descriptions in the upper right corner. A manuscript leaf at the end contains a Nomenclature, or table of contents. The condition is good overall, with the pages showing little foxing or brittle edges.

Lighting styles include table, pendant and street lamps, and torcheres. The designs incorporate a range of materials, such as painted wood, silk, enameled crystal, bronze, iron, marble and various trimmings. The final plate in the collection offers a surprise; a drawing of a table aquarium, complete with goldfish and a small gray seahorse.

The Luminaire portfolio was purchased by a Belgian dealer at a small French book fair, and an antiquarian bookseller in Cambridge, Massachusetts contacted the Rakow Library about the item. Provenance of Luminaire prior to the Belgian owner is as yet unknown.

It is not clear if the studio’s intent was to publish the designs; no bibliographic record is found in international library and book trade catalogs. We are hoping that the artist will eventually be identified, perhaps by a researcher visiting the Rakow Library!


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