Sunday, June 29, 2014

Livingston's: Lush to Lifeless

Compare this catalog cover to yesterday's farmer.  This one is sad.  It is a nice idea, Norman Rockwell-ish...but the artist killed it.  Dead.  The farmer yesterday was stiff, but upbeat because of the Victorian embellishments and color!  Today, the story that should draw you in is squashed by the awkward draftsmanship and the color.  The kid in this one looks weird.  Yuck.  
Good idea, though!  
Something happened in the reorganization when the name changed from Livingston's Sons to Livingston's Seeds.

Importantly, however, this cover reflects a big step towards 20th century style illustration on the part of the artist at a time visual embellishment was still holding its own!  (Not that I welcome a less "flowery" style in seed catalogs...) Inside, the deathly b&w photos of vegies are beginning to appear among the more lively engravings as well.


Let's compare the joie of the 1898 and 1899 back covers.

Here is the back cover that goes with the above 1899 farmer.
It looks like a morgue photo.  Makes its point well, if you don't fall asleep before getting there.


Here is the back cover from 1898!  Stiff, perhaps, but far from dead! 


I think I will back up in time and wallow in some more exuberant illustrations.