Thursday, August 6, 2009

Don Quixote (Quijote) on Ex Libris IV

Ex Libris. As of 2003, at least 2,200 Don Quixote exlibris had been produced by about 800 artists, from over 50 countries, for over 900 owners. European owners are numerous, with the largest number of collectors, not surprisingly, among the Spanish. There are also avid owners in the Americas and the Far East. Peter Hosokawa (1932-1997) and Dr. George Sekine are two Japanese enthusiasts who have commissioned several editions. Although Hosokawa amassed over 1,000 ex libris with this topic, he never commissioned Japanese artists. Sekine, on the other hand, has utilized Japanese artists; some of these depictions have portrayed Don Quixote as a Samurai (Japanese knight). (4)

Vodrazka (1894-1984), from Prague, is the artist given the distinction of having produced the largest number of Don Quixote exlibris (more than 150), with Eduardo Dias Ferreira (1925-1991), from Portugal, creating over 100. When was the Don Quixote topic first used in exlibris? Authorities vary in their estimate, but possibly as early as 1770, although probably not until the late 1800s. (6)

The most common subject areas are: 1. Quixote in armor, 2. Quixote on his horse, 3, Rocinante, 4. Quixote and books, 5. Quixote and Sancho Panza; 6. Quixote and other characters (most often Dulcinea), 7. Quixote and some representation of death or religion, 8. Quixote and other miscellaneous items or themes, 9. Cervantes.

Stylistically they range from realistic to abstract. Techniques used to produce them include metal plate engravings and etchings, woodcuts and wood engravings, lithographs, serigraphs and other photo processes.

Although there is not a great deal of literature regarding "Cervantine" exlibris, there are exhibition pamphlets, sections of exhibition catalogues, occasional articles in specialized magazines, several books, and at least one doctoral dissertation that have described the topic of Don Quixote on exlibris. Some offer the reader excellent reproductions, occasionally tipped-in originals, and interesting text. (3), (5), (6)

"Can we ever have too much of a good thing?" asks a friend of Don Quixote in Part 1. It appears that we'll never have enough exlibris using the theme of Don Quixote. Anyone who is easily able to lose him or herself in any sort of fiction is in some degree a Quixote. (1) Dr. Sekine mentioned in his paper that he used "Don Quixote" as his pen name because "Non Qui" has the meaning of carefree or easy-going in Japanese which appealed to him. (4) The legacy of Cervantes is that "the novelist teaches the reader to comprehend the world as a question." (2) The innocence of Don Quixote in his pursuit of his dream will continue to attract ex libris enthusiasts and artists alike.

Grateful acknowledgement to Luigi Bergomi, for his loan of literature and ex libris.


  1. Vodrazka)) LOL, what a strange name. All Chezhs have so funny names :D :D

  2. nothing funny, it's just a name. I guess our names looking also so funny for them ))