Rare Finds from the Archives: More from Alden and Vada Dow’s Art Print Collection

Formes et couleurs: vingt planches en couleurs contenant soixante-sept motifs decoratifs is an album designed by Auguste H. Thomas and published in Paris by Librairie Centrale des Beaux Arts in 1921. It is composed of 67 decorative motifs on 20 plates measuring 12.5 by 18 inches. The designs in the album were possibly for textiles and contain a variety of animals, flowers, and geometric designs, all typical of the Art Deco and Art Nouveau styles. Of particular grace and beauty is Plate 1 of a stylized leaping deer. Thomas only produced a few portfolios, making his work a rare find.


The plates are printed in vivid colors using the pochoir process, which involves the use of multiple layers of stencils in the manual production of original art prints. It was used in France by artists such as E. A. Seguy, who was featured in a previous post, as well as other craftsmen to produce illustrated portfolios, limited edition books and journals, and decorative and fine art prints during the early 20 th century.

Yet another portfolio of pochoir plates in the Dow’s collection is Variations: quatre-vingt-six motifs decoratifs en vingt planches. The designs were created by Edouard Benedictus, a French painter, writer, composer, chemist, and inventor, perhaps better known for developing the first practical means of making laminated glass. Also duly acknowledged on the title page of the work is Jean Saude, the French printmaker known for his mastery of the pochoir technique and the author of the first how-to book on the process.

Published in 1923, the portfolio consists of 20 large plates with a number of designs on each plate for a total of 86 different motifs or patterns. Each plate measures 14.5 by 18 inches. The designs are mainly flowers and leaves rendered in the Art Deco style, as well as some purely abstract patterns. The colors are layered and rich, with some metallic silver and gold highlights, a detail not found in either the Seguy or Benedictus portfolios.

Did you know?  Appointments are welcome to view or study any of the Archives materials featured in this post and can be arranged by contacting us at archives@abdow.org.

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