“Once Upon a Time” is a phrase that we know means our imaginations are about to be taken on an adventure. Fairytales, myths, and legends often begin with these words, and what follows are fantastical, colorful, absurd tales filled with all sorts of people, animals, and otherworldly creatures. Writers across the Western world began collecting and transcribing local folklore during the 18th and early 19th centuries, and these collected works were hugely popular. In the last quarter of the 19th century, several social and technological advances led to a boom in illustrated volumes of these tales, in what would come to be known as “the Golden Age of Illustration”.
In a small exhibition at Centre Céramique a selection of Art Nouveau illustrations by illustrators such as Arthur Rackham, Harry Clarke, René Bull and William Heath Robinson can be admired. It is part of a larger initiative to promote public access to the exceptional works held by Maastricht University Special Collections. The original books can be viewed on request at the Maastricht University Library. On this timeline, you will find our “Golden Age of Illustration” books that also can be consulted digitally.