Thursday, 5 January 2012

An Occult Calendar Of 1896
illustrated by Manuel Orazi

    Here is a item from the extensive collection of fantastic artworks available online from the archives of the Cornell University.

    It seems to have a semi-spoof written by author Austin De Croze (1866-1937), a writer better known for his cookery books, but its main interest lie in the  lithographs by Manuel Orazi (1860-1934).

    Orazi made his name in Paris in the early 1890s having moved there from Rome. His work is primarily Art Nouveau in style, and although he moved in interesting circles (for example with decadent author Jean Lorrain, Wilde and Proust) most of his illustrated work (which includes a version of 'Salome' as well as works by Poe and Baudelaire) is a bit tame for my taste. despite his personal interest in the occult. However there are some interesting items, for example this humorous depiction of a black mass featuring Maeterlinck, Proust, Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas.

'Black Mass - Deception', cover for L'Assiette au beurre's
special issue on Black Magic, 13 December 1903
    In 1920 he was responsible for the set designs and costumes for the film adaptation by Jasques Feyder of a novel by Pierre Benoit, ' L’Atlantide'. The film is a mixture of the Atlantis myth with a dash of Rider Haggards' 'She'. Here are a few film stills.

Stacia Napierkowska as Queen Antinéa in Orazi designed costume

    But to the Calendar itself. It was  printed in Paris in 1896, supposedly printed in an edition of 777 copies (though this may well be part of a cabbalistic joke) with each double page spread mimicking the Christian calendar in some respect. It reminds me somewhat of a more macabre version of Ernest Jessops illustrations to Thomas Ingoldbys 'Witches Frolic' of 1888 which I will post next time. 

'The Witches Frolic' Illustration by Ernest Jessop 1888

Manuel Orazis' illustrations for
 An Occult Calendar Of 1896

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