The Other Life of Eugène Séguy, Entomologist

*Guest post by Julie Gibbons. All images via North Carolina State University Libraries.

This is the fourth in a series of posts on famous people who did surface design as a sideline to their main jobs. Often, they were so famous that their main job completely eclipsed their pattern-making skills, and it can be hard to find out information about this aspect of their work. I present to you the entomologist, Eugène Séguy.

Eugène Alain Séguy is quite a mysterious figure in early 20thC Europe, with little information available on him. Some sources suggest there were two folk with the same name – one an entomologist, responsible for founding the Diptera section in the Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris, and the other a surface designer, whose numerous patterns included a substantial number based on insects.

However I do believe he was just one man, based on these truly stunning, scientifically accurate images of insects, provided in a portfolio of works alongside patterns. They are made using the pochoir technique, a type of hand-stencilling used to produce fine prints in limited editions. These images are all from the collection of North Carolina State University, who have made them available online at very high resolution. I encourage you to go and have a look; they are absolutely, gloriously incredible in close-up.

His early decorative work with floral patterns was based in an Art Nouveau style, before he excelled with these wonderful works based on beetles, butterflies and other insects. Later he turned to producing more abstract geometrics in the Art Deco style.

Julie Gibbons is a contemporary craft and surface design junkie, and writes about these things and more on her own blog, She is also a maker of many things.
    1. I know! I mean, I have seen and heard of some pretty good artists and their pictures, but Eugene Seguy’s is just…

  1. I have a colored lithograph by E. A. Seguy of an art nouveau fireplace screen, labeled simply ‘ecran’, the French word for screen. The seller had affixed to the back a note stating that it is part of portfolio of 1200 for one of the Paris International Expositions to illustrate the art nouveau style. It is completely unlike the designs that seem to be patterns for fabrics of the later butterflies and insects that are usually attributed to E. A. Seguy. Could you help me identify the Seguy who designed the screen? I suspect that there were two different men with the same name, one of whom was an entomologist in a French government post. I could send a photo, but I do not know how to attach it to my comment here.

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