Enter the marvelous world of Madame B, where photographic portraits dot the tail feathers of a turkey, faces decorate the wings of a colorful butterfly, and a secret language of flowers communicates hidden meanings. Drawn from a nineteenth-century album in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago, this charming book reproduces over 55 pages filled with photographs, collages, and watercolor designs. Focusing on recurring pictorial themes such as pattern, the animal kingdom, and keepsakes, The Marvelous Album of Madame B reflects both the experiences of the album’s maker, identified as Blanche Fournier, the wife of a French diplomat, and the history of the photocollage album. An insightful and accessible essay by Elizabeth Siegel, associate curator of photography at the Art Institute, describes the creation of the album and posits the connections between the medium and the lives of women in Victorian aristocratic society. Clever, whimsical, and surreal, this fascinating album is perfectly in keeping with a Victorian sensibility and yet utterly modern.
The Art Institute of Chicago, 2009 64 pages, 7 x 9 57 color illus.