A Beautifully Illustrated Book in the Seydel Collection

Theatre Spines

Spines of the three volumes of Théâtre by Maurice Maeterlinck

A remarkable and unique work from MARBL‘s Paul Bernard Seydel Memorial Collection of works relating to Belgium is Théâtre, a collection of plays by the Belgian writer Maurice Maeterlinck. The three volume set was published in Brussels in 1901-1902 in an edition of 110 copies. While it’s an attractive publication there was nothing particularly special about it when it was first issued. What’s notable about MARBL’s copy is what was done subsequent to its publication.


Interior Pages of Theatre

Interior Decorated Pages of Théâtre

The book was completely transformed inside and out. All three volumes were taken apart and almost every page was hand-illustrated with decorate borders, small and full page pictures reflecting events in the text. The illustrations are apparently all by an A. Holzbeeck who signed his or her name at the beginning of the first volume. Sadly nothing is known about this artist. Once the pages had been illustrated they were beautifully bound by the Belgian bookbinder Jacques Weckesser in full morocco with gilt and colored decorations.

We have no history for this work before it came to MARBL so the early history of the work has been lost. We would love to know why this special set of books was so lavishly created. Perhaps it was commissioned as a gift or perhaps it was created to be sold for profit. Sadly, we will probably never know.

Interior Pages of Theatre

Interior Decorated Pages of Théâtre

One Reply to “A Beautifully Illustrated Book in the Seydel Collection”

  1. As for Passepartout, he was a true Parisian of Paris. Since he had abandoned his own country for England, taking service as a valet, he had in vain searched for a master after his own heart. Passepartout was by no means one of those pert dunces depicted by Moliere with a bold gaze and a nose held high in the air; he was an honest fellow, with a pleasant face, lips a trifle protruding, soft-mannered and serviceable, with a good round head, such as one likes to see on the shoulders of a friend. His eyes were blue, his complexion rubicund, his figure almost portly and well-built, his body muscular, and his physical powers fully developed by the exercises of his younger days. His brown hair was somewhat tumbled; for, while the ancient sculptors are said to have known eighteen methods of arranging.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *