Old Book Illustrations: No Photoshop or Illustrator, Thank You

February 1, 2021

Here is a useful resource—Old Book Illustrations. The site began as a way for the creators to share pictures from their own collection of Victorian and French Romantic books and grew as they explored other collections online. All images are in the public domain. The site’s About page elaborates:

“Although it would have been possible to considerably broaden the time-frame of our pursuit, we chose to keep our focus on the original period in which we started for reasons pertaining to taste, consistency, and practicality: due to obvious legal restrictions, we had to stay within the limits of the public domain. This explains why there won’t be on this site illustrations first published prior to the 18th century or later than the first quarter of the 20th century. We are not the only image collection on the web, neither will we ever be the largest one. We hope however to be a destination of choice for visitors more particularly interested in Victorian and French Romantic illustrations—we understand French Romanticism in its broadest sense and draw its final line, at least in the realm of book illustration, at the death of Gustave Doré. We also focused our efforts on offering as many different paths and avenues as possible to help you find your way to an illustration, whether you are looking for something specific or browsing randomly. The many links organizing content by artist, language, publisher, date of birth, and more are designed to make searching easier and indecision rewarding.”

The site is well organized and easy to either search or browse is several ways—by artists, publishers, subjects, art techniques, book titles, and formats (portrait, landscape, tondo, or square). There is even a “navigation how-to” if one wants a little help getting started. The site also posts articles like biographies and descriptions of cultural contexts. We recommend checking it out and perhaps bookmarking it for future use.

Cynthia Murrell, February 1, 2021


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