University of Rochester Library Bulletin: The Thomas Curtiss Taylor Bookplate

Volume XXXIII · 1980
The Thomas Curtiss Taylor Bookplate

The Thomas Curtiss Taylor bookplate was designed by his niece, Ann Taylor. It is inserted in all volumes acquired on the Thomas Curtiss Taylor Rare Book Fund, which was established in 1978 by the late Mr. Taylor's family and friends.

To best describe the design of the bookplate and the reasons for it, we quote from a letter written by Miss Taylor to the Library in 1979:

My uncle, Thomas Curtiss Taylor, was best known as a lawyer and a civic leader in Rochester. His lesser-known artistic side was very personal. He painted in oil, designed and constructed intricate wooden models and, in the last years of his life, spent many hours photographing landscapes and wildflowers.

Photography excited him immensely. As I am also involved in art, we often discussed his most current work. The delicacy of the wildflowers in the fields surrounding his house especially intrigued him. He filled his office and his house with photographs of every kind.

When I learned of the rare books fund in his memory at the University of Rochester, I asked his wife, Kitty, for the opportunity to design a commemorative bookplate. With her approval, I spent several months contemplating the design. Originally, I had thought of executing a suitable work of my own art. Nothing of mine satisfied me. Then it occurred to me that, indeed, T. was an artist in his own right. Using his art for the memorial plate seemed extremely fitting. It would be a direct portrayal of his sensitivity to beauty and life. T. had an extraordinary combination of intelligence, humor, drive, and sensitivity. It is his creative talent that this bookplate exemplifies.

The photograph which I chose for the bookplate was one of his favorites. Aesthetically, it is essentially simple in design and subject matter: a dandelion puff against the sun. Philosophically, it contrasts the fragile, transitory nature of living things with the powerful, ongoing energy of the sun -- a universal theme. Beyond all, it is beautiful. With this photograph as the central image, I chose a typeface and created a design for the bookplate that was equally direct.

Miss Taylor has been a professional artist for the past 19 years, concentrating primarily on landscapes in oils. She has exhibited frequently in Rochester as well as New York City and the other major cities in the United States.


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