Dugald Stewart Walker Bookplate Collection

C1: 107
1920s–1930s
22 plates 

C1:107 Dugald Stewart Walker Bookplate Collection  (LVA 10_1319_008)

Failed insurance salesman Dugald Stewart Walker (1883–1937), a native Richmonder and self-styled eccentric very much in artistic and cultural sympathy with the British aesthetes of a generation before, studied drawing at the University of Virginia and the New York School of Art, and was by the late 1920s internationally renowned as both a fine artist and popular illustrator of children’s books. While his gallery work was praised in the museums of London, Paris, and Rome, Walker’s elegant grotesqueries fared poorly back home in Depression-era Richmond—though he was keenly sought after as a bookplate designer by the Richmond and New York elite.                                                                        

With striking black-and-white prints reminiscent of the work of Aubrey Beardsley but distinctly his own, Walker created a whimsical, slightly sinister, and technically precise “Once Upon a Time” world of pleasure gardens, peacocks, satyrs, clowns, archers, and mounted knights. Often in his bookplates the highly personalized iconography of client preference is brought to bear on quaint themes and high modernist design. In the plate for the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, for example, delicately rendered chemistry beakers positioned above a “window” become, in their self-mirroring symmetry, a kind of ornamental pediment. In another plate, otherwise naturalistic boxers, poised for battle, become pilaster-like ornaments on either side of a monumental baroque doorway through which lovers can be glimpsed embracing in a glade. Perhaps the strangest item in this collection isn’t a bookplate at all but the artist’s own Christmas card, whereon female triplets, uncannily prefiguring Dr. Seuss characters in their synchronized stride, come bearing wreaths and a garnished pig’s head on a platter.

Arrangement and access:
The collection includes a one-page typed inventory of contents. Some plates are signed by the artist in pencil.

References:
Stacy Moore and Edward Campbell, “The Art of Make-Believe: The Bookplates of Dugald Stewart Walker,” Virginia Cavalcade, Autumn 1991 

Related resources and collections:
C1: 110  Bookplate File

2 Comments

  1. Dennis Smith said:
    14 July 2012 at 4:25 pm

    I am trying to find out more about Dugald Stewart Walker. I have a collection of First Day Covers dating back to the 1930s. I have 10 FDCs with cachets by Stewart from 1937. I would like any information that could point me in the right direction.

  2. Dave said:
    5 March 2013 at 12:22 pm

    I have what may be a pen and ink or a plate from
    Dream Boats 12×16 inches but have no idea as to its value . Any clues

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