Les Villes Tentaculaires, (The Tentacular Towns), by Emile Verhaeren, illustrated by Frank Brangwyn, 1919. Emile Verhaeren (1855 −1916) was a Belgian poet who wrote in the French language. He was a founder of Symbolism, a late nineteenth-century art movement of French and Belgian origin in poetry and other arts. In poetry, it included Verlaine, Rimbaud, Mallarme, Baudelaire; in philosophy, Schopenhauer; in music, Wagner; in the arts, Carlos Schwabe (more on him later in the gallery), Redon, Bakst. Verhaeren deplored the impact of the industrial age on his country and countrymen. The book is bound by arguably the greatest of them all, Marius Michel. He was the first to create a movement that viewed the binding as an expression of the mood and spirit of the author. At first, like the Impressionists in painting, he was viewed as unruly and disrespectful by the Establishment. Soon however, his outstanding skills as a leather craftsman, his harmonious choices of colors, and the variety of his motifs placed his decorative bindings well above those of other binders.
Born in Belgium, Sir Frank Brangwyn (1867-1956) was a painter, watercolorist, engraver and illustrator. Along with Diego Rivera and José Maria Sert, he was chosen by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. to decorate the concourse of the RCA Building in New York City (1930-34) with murals. With William Walcot (who illustrated Salammbo and Herodias), Whistler, F. Benson, Zorn and others, he was a master of etching.