The Magazine

November, 1893, Page: 1

Image Dimensions: 13.5 x 12.1
attached to grey paper, 15.5 x 13.8 cms

Page Dimensions: 30.7 x 24.5 cms


Title: Design for a Bookplate for Lucy Raeburn

Date: 1893

Inscription: Drawing, pencil on brown tracing paper, 13.5 x 12.1 cm, attached to grey paper, 15.5 x 13.8 cm. Signed and dated bottom: “FRANCES E. MACDONALD – DELT — NOV. MDCCCLXIII’[sic]–”; inscribed top left: “LUCY / RAEBURN / P. Q.[?]”; top right “THE / EDITOR / HER – / BOOK.” [scored out]

Keywords: art nouveau; bookplates; symbolism; figure and animal-derived motifs; plant-derived motifs

Material: Pencil

Commentary: This important drawing is the earliest known design by either of the Macdonald sisters in the Glasgow Style. The symbolism, two reading women bound to a Tree of Knowledge presided over by a benign winged figure, is appropriate for a book plate. The symmetrical nature of the drawing and its placing within a frame, a common feature of many Glasgow Style designs, reflects the exercises in space filling which students at the Glasgow School of Art, along with those in all other British art schools, were required to do as part of their course. The design was almost certainly derived from an illustration by the architect and decorative artist Charles Francis Annesley Voysey (1857–1941), which appeared in The Studio vol. 1 (1893), p. 231. The date in Roman numerals is inaccurate. Variations of the design were used during the 1890s by both Macdonald sisters and Charles Rennie Mackintosh. There is a similar design for a bookplate for the artist’s personal use, in which the central figure is clothed, in the Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow.