Don Quixote in a book graphic
There are books that shocked me, with which I lived and with which I was forever connected by the memory of my mind and heart. Such recognition of the remarkable expert and master of book art, people’s artist of Russia N.V. Kuzmina could justifiably be shared by many admirers of Don Quixote, for whom this amazing book truly became a life partner, spiritual and moral support, a source of creative inspiration.
The ingenious work of Miguel le Cervantes Saavedra belongs to a rare number of those works of world literature, whose immortal images – Don Quixote, Sancho Panza, Dulsineya Tobos – live in the human mind along with real historical figures. Due to their unusual fate, these images constantly attracted the attention of people from various fields of art, and, first of all, fine art.
Don Quixote bookplate Among admirers of the famous novel by Cervantes, there has long been a desire to capture his “visible images” on the book signs of his book collections. Bookplates, the appearance of which dates back to the middle of the 15th century – the initial period of printing, traditionally being book-ownership marks, a kind of “protective diploma” of a book and library, at the same time, always symbolized the eternal respect and love of a person for his faithful friend and interlocutor, his worship of the greatest creation of spiritual and material culture – the Book.
Since the time when the most prominent masters of book graphic art began to turn to work on the bookplate, this genre of small applied graphics has become an area of serious creative search, extremely popular among book lovers, connoisseurs of book and touch graphics. Small graphic leaflets – bookplates, created by artists at different times in different countries, often became the subject of keen attention of people who are deeply interested not only in book-attributive, but also in the aesthetic side of book-ownership signs. Enthusiastic collectors, subtle connoisseurs, scholars and propagandists of book sign art appeared.
The history of signs of book love with plots motivated by outstanding works of literature, in particular, devoted to the brilliant creation of Cervantes, is still on the verge of study.
So far it has not been possible to establish what the first bibliophile signs, inspired by the colorful images of Don Quixote, represented and to whom they belonged. One can only assume that the first such book-keeping emblems used the motives of the first illustrations for the novel, which appeared in a number of European countries as early as the 17th century.
However, with a well-known assumption, we could specifically name such a “first-born”. This is the emblem of the Madrid printing house of Juan de la Cuesta. appeared on the title page of the very first edition of Don Quixote in 1605 (part 1 of the novel). This sign had the form of a vertical oval – a monogram with the image inside of it of the legendary bird Phoenix trampling a lion. The oval is framed by an inscription – the Latin motto: “Post tenebras spero lucem” – After the gloom I hope for light. It is clear that equality between this typographic emblem and bookplate, despite the general “impartiality” for them in this case, is not sufficient. However, it is worth recalling that at the origins of the tradition of ex-libris lie heraldic symbols and emblem of arms. It was the coat of arms that were initially used by the patrimonial noble families as proprietary marks, including as book-keeping ones. It is known that even before the term “ex libris” appeared, such “pre-ex libris” -heraldic signs and emblems (the so-called “proto-ex libris”) were often used not only by book owners, but also by publishers, printing houses, and book-sellers. A kind of forerunner of the bookplate, which perfectly reflected the radiant idea of Cervantes’s work, we also think of the original typographic sign of Juan de la Cuesta, which crowned the birth of the immortal Don Quixote. It is noteworthy that the emblem-motto of this first edition of Cervantes’ novel was used in the future as a compositional element in some bookplate works on this subject.
Don Quixote of the bookplate The world of the modern bookplate “Don Quixote” is vast and diverse. In its totality, it interestingly supplements and expands our figurative and philosophical perception of the novel itself, helps creative understanding of many socio-ethical problems that do not pass in time. In recent decades, along with the increased interest of artists in this topic, efforts to collect and study such graphic art works have intensified. To a large extent, this was facilitated by the expansion of the exchange of collection materials, information and special publications between collectors-bookplates from different countries. A series of publications appears in our bibliophile periodical devoted to the reflection of the ideas and images of Don Quixote by the works of Soviet graphic artists, in a number of which a prominent place belongs to such masters of feather and styli.