Josef Frank's Botanical prints Svenskt Tenn

Josef Frank's Botanical Prints

Already as a child, Josef Frank had a strong botanical interest, and as a designer he expressed this by composing his very own flora. He combined well-known favourites such as tulips, forget-me-nots and lily of the valley with imaginative and expressive flowers and plants. Josef Frank preferred to compose his flower sketches directly from nature, but sometimes he also drew inspiration from illustrated flora. Here we have gathered some of his most beloved botanical motifs.

California 1942 – 1945

California is one of the prints that Josef Frank designed during the period 1942–1945. The inspiration for the flowers in the motif was found in Gladys Lynwall Pratt's American Garden Flowers. In total, Josef Frank has drawn twenty different (named) summer flowers, among them cress, sweet pea, pansy, dahlia, petunia and zinnia, which are all held together by a winding flowerbed of dots.

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Celotocaulis 1930

Celotocaulis was originally designed for Haus und Garten and was woodblock printed in Vienna. Caulis is Latin for ‘flower stalk’ and Celoto alludes to the Asian plant genus Celosia, which is characterised by plume- or cockscomb-like inflorescences. Pregnant and unusual in two respects, the print is uniformly designed (half-drop match) and the repeat pattern width is only 37.5 cm. The long, vertical lines stand impressively against the ellipsoidal arch and are grouped in pairs of “cockscomb leaves”. The root fibres serve as much needed ports of call in the rhythmic design. In addition to green, it has been printed in yellow, burgundy and graphite grey, as well as on voile in white on white.

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Nippon 1943 – 1945

With its Japanese undertones, Nippon features a myriad of varied-sized fantasy chrysanthemums and a scattering of layered camellias (Camellia japonica) that creates an effect of depth. The continuity is subtly highlighted and the half-concealed red stems bearing red and yellow fruits lead the pattern on to the next repeat. It has been claimed that there is no people on earth more enamoured of nature and flowers than the Japanese. This love is so deeply rooted in the souls of the Japanese that admiring flowers and surrounding themselves with them has become a way of life.

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Baranquilla 1943 – 1945

The lianas in Baranquilla grow naturally and form a flowering network. The half-drop match helps to conceal the geometric and no particular direction is marked. The name Baranquilla derives from Barranquilla, the Columbian port on the Caribbean Sea, infused with colours, sounds and smells of the tropical rainforest. In 1941, Josef Frank and his wife Anna made a stopover in Barranquilla on their way to New York, where they were exiled during the Second World War.

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Primavera 1920s

Composed at the beginning of the 1920s, Primavera has been produced every year. When it was woodblock printed in Vienna, it required no less than 35 carved blocks. It comprises a total of nine colours: brown, beige, dark yellow, light yellow, red, pink, dark green, light green and blue. When it was screenprinted in Sweden, it required nine different templates, which traversed the raw weave. In horizontal borders, most of our spring flowers are sprouting: tulips, scillas, hyacinths, daisies, violets and forget-me-nots. The tulips stand out, thanks to their size and their way of growing upwards. The title Primavera recalls pre-Renaissance Florence and Botticelli’s Allegory of Spring, with the goddess of flowers, Flora, scattering flowers over the earth.

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