If one has a very large book collection amassed over many years, it is quite easy to overlook a particular treasure. I have owned this lovely volume, 'The Troubles of Tatters' for a long time and today I took it from the shelf and re-discovered the wonderful illustrations inside.
Very much in the style of it's time - the late 19th century - the artworks are typically Art Nouveau and remind me a little of Toulouse-Lautrec mingled with Arthur Rackham and a smidgen of Aubrey Beardsley. The illustrator was Alice B. Woodward, a prolific and well known illustrator in her time.
If I were being overly critical, I would say that the illustrator's strengths were in the motifs and half page designs. There are many full page plates, such as the one below but in my opinion, while being accomplished, they lack the punch and graphic impact of the smaller decorations, while her animals and insects have more character than the humans depicted.
I also have to confess, I have never actually read the book, being more interested in the wonderful designs.
It is lavishly illustrated and there are too many delightful images to show here, but these are some of my favorites.
Nothing says 'Art Nouveau' more than dragonflies.
And so we come to the end - for myself, the sign of a beautifully designed book is on the back cover. It's the little details that count.