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, http://tractorgirl.com.au. She is also a maker of many things.

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