Albert Charles Auguste Racinet
Paris, July 20, 1825 Montfort-l'Amaury, October 29, 1893
Artist, designer lithographer, director of publishing, art historian.
Auguste Racinet was most famous for his encyclopedia of clothing around the world and through the ages. Originally published in France between 1876 and 1888, "Le Costume Historique" was the most wide-ranging and intelligent study of clothing ever published. Covering the world history of costume, dress, and style from antiquity through the end of the 19th century, the great work was consolidated in 1888 into 6 volumes containing nearly 500 plates and remains, to this day, completely unique in its scope and detail.
His early formation was with his father, a printer lithographer (also named Charles Auguste), he studied at the School of Design of the City of Paris (l'école de dessin de la Ville de Paris). He exhibited his painting at the Salons from 1849 to 1874, but his work as painter was always inspired by ancient manuscripts from la BibliothÃ¨que Nationale, or related to architectural studies and projects of stained glass. Some of his paintings, mainly of scenes from the life of Charles VI and Jacques Coeur are at the MusÃ©e Draguignan.
His early years of learning with the father and his ability in reproducing ancient work directed his interests in the sector of the arts education and in the participation in scholarly works, anthologies, model textbooks, etc.
In the 1840s, he works on the boards of a publication by the painter Ferdinand SÃ©rÃ© and writer Charles Louandre to be named Histoire du costume et de lâ€™ameublement au Moyen Ã‚ge (History of costume and furniture in the Middle Ages). The premature death of SÃ©rÃ© delayed the publication and it was only in 1858 that the project was revived by the lithographer publisher-editor-Shed MaugÃ© who drew from SÃ©rÃ© and Louandre work for the publication of the four volumes of Arts Somptuaires, Histoire du costume et de l'ameublement et des arts et industries (Sumptuary Arts, History of Costume and Furniture and the Arts and Industries); Published with the assistance of Claudius Ciappori, a painter expert in archeological studies.
Part of the SÃ©rÃ© and Louandreâ€™s project had already been published in 1847-1851 by Paul Lacroix under the title Le Moyen Ã‚ge et la Renaissance, histoire et description des mÅ“urs et usages, du commerce et de lâ€™industrie, des sciences, des arts, des littÃ©ratures et des beaux-arts en Europe (The Middle Ages and the Renaissance, A History and Description of Mores and Customs, Commerce and Industry, Art, Literature and the Fine Arts in Europe) and in 1852 in the publication Costumes historiques de la France dâ€™aprÃ¨s les monuments les plus authentiques, prÃ©cÃ©dÃ© de lâ€™histoire de la vie privÃ©e des FranÃ§ais depuis lâ€™origine de la monarchie jusquâ€™Ã nos jours. (Historic Costumes of France according to the most Authentic Monuments, preceded by the History of the Private Lives of the French from the Origin of the Monarchy to the Present Day).
It is the starting point for Auguste Racinet of his career in scholarly art publishing; a career summarized in the administrative dossier that was compiled for his nomination of Chevalier de la LÃ©gion d'Honneur in1878. This dossier mentions that Racinet â€œdesigner and publicistâ€ is the author of Lâ€™Ornement polychrome, traduced in English and German.
He is the art director of various sets of engravings: La CÃ©ramique japonaise (Japanese Ceramics), published in English and French, La Collection archaÃ©ologique du Prince Saltykoff (The Archeological Collection of Prince Saltykoff), Le XVIIIe siÃ¨cle (The 18th Century) by Paul Lacroix, and L'Iconographie de la Sainte Vierge (The Iconography of the Holy Virgin) by AbbÃ© Meynard. It is mentioned also his collaboration for the illustration of Lâ€™Ã‚ne dâ€™or dâ€™ApulÃ©e (Apuleius's Golden Ass), at the edition of Arts somptuaires ( Sumptuary Arts) and of Lâ€™Institution de lâ€™ordre du Saint-Esprit (The Institution of the Order of the Saint Esprit) published by Godefroy Engelmann. The dossier refers also that Racinet served as Secretary to the Drawing Schools Jury for the exhibitions at the Union Centrale for the years 1874-1876.
After his death on October 29 1893 Racinet will be remembered for his two major works: L'Ornement polychrome (Polychrome Ornament) and Le Costume Historique (Costume History) 1876-1888. Le Costume Historique (Costume History) was published by the editor Ambroise Firmin-Didot (1790-1876), printer of the Institut de France, distinguished expert of the Hellenist period, member of the lâ€™AcadÃ©mie des inscriptions et belles-lettres, collector of manuscripts and rare books. Ambroise Firmin-Didot had published various archeological works about Egypt, Greece, Pompeii and other periods; Auguste Racinet refers often to this works for the preparation of the Lâ€™Ornement Polychrome .
Firmin Didor, Bros. & Sons (publisher)