The Diane de Selliers publishing house: When art meets literature
Founder of a unique publishing house, Diane de Selliers has made her passion for books her profession, in which she flourishes day after day. Inhabited by the magic of words, her books are true and precious works of art. Enter the fantastic world of the discreet publishing house Diane de Selliers.
It was during a trip to the Belgian capital, where she was promoting a book on the Italian city of Florence in the 1990s, that Diane de Selliers‘ desire to devote herself to publishing was born. After falling in love with an illustrated edition of La Fontaine’s Fables found in a bookstore near the Grand-Place in Brussels, she decided to publish the same historic work in a more contemporary version.
“Such treasures only make sense if they are shared,” she said to herself when she came across the Fables of this bookseller. Her modern reinterpretation of one of the most beautiful jewels of French literature was an immediate success – 30,000 copies have been sold to date. Diane de Selliers knew at that very moment that this art book, which she had worked so hard to create, would be the first volume of a great collection.
“The great texts of literature illustrated by the greatest painters”
This is the name of the collection of books published by Diane de Selliers. Founded in 1992, this publishing house will celebrate its thirtieth anniversary this year with… its thirtieth art book! Because the company only publishes one book a year, at the time of the end of the year celebrations, like real gifts that we look forward to every year…
This well-considered choice makes sense when you take a closer look at the long, arduous but fascinating and sublime work behind each book. Diane de Selliers and the specialists who accompany her travel to the most remote countries, peoples, and places in the world to find the most beautiful, rare, and unique illustrations that will bring the text to life and give it the power and vigor it deserves.
“The level of commitment and work involved in each book is such that we need time, not only to do the necessary research, but to produce the most accomplished book possible,” Diane de Selliers explains to Forbes. This painstaking work – which can take several years, as for the Tale of Genji, the founding novel of Japan, which took seven years to complete – is added to that of researching ancestral texts so that they are as complete as possible.
When each book is art…
Râmâyana, one of the key texts of Hindu civilization, written about 800 years before our era, is a perfect example. It tells the story of Prince Rama and advocates the universal values of courage, loyalty, and love. In order for this work to see the light of day, Diane de Selliers, armed with her perseverance, was able to convince the Maharajah of Jaipur to entrust her with the hidden royal manuscripts of the emperor Akbar dating from the 16th century, which had been inaccessible for more than forty years.
After reuniting these literary jewels, the latter could finally be revealed to the world a decade after the research began, magnified by more than 600 unpublished miniatures.
The discovery of the Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu is also a second very good example. The book, the first psychological novel in the world which makes us live the amorous and political adventures of Prince Genji the Radiant, is decorated with original paintings, is adorned with original Japanese paintings from screens, kakemonos, albums, or even calligraphic scrolls dating from the Middle Ages (12th century), found by dint of surveying Japanese monasteries on the mountainside, among others.
The texts, whether they are foundational of humanity, spirituality, mythology, poetry, stories and novels, unknown or not, dialogue in elegance and delicacy with precious illustrations, all of great rarity. “Our books create links between literature and painting, the text and its illustration: the images offer a new look on a text, they allow to interpret it, to sublimate it” she confides, afterwards.
The story is then told through the greatest ancestral texts ever written, the richness of the illustrations but also through the scientific rigor and the long investigations which are necessary for each work.
The final result? After thirty years of existence, it is a rich collection of – soon – thirty jewels of literature which stage and reveal the immense richness of the history of the world through the words and tells the Art by collecting the most beautiful works ever made.
A publishing house anchored in the French cultural landscape
Perfectly integrated and welcomed in the French and international cultural world, this publishing house is recognized for its singularity, the quality of its works of art and its concern for high standards. With numerous books awarded for their high degree of excellence, the founder of the eponymous house has been rewarded many times for her work.
Named “Publisher of the Year” in 2013 by the Académie des Beaux-Arts Cercle Montherlant and the Cercle de la Closerie des Lilas, Diane de Selliers was elevated to the rank of Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur in 2007 and has been an Officier des Arts et Lettres for the past five years.
Living almost entirely on donations from individuals and patrons, the publishing house, which is also a member of the Comité Colbert, is today a singularly independent luxury house, rich in values as enriching as they are exciting.
The books, printed in editions of 3,000 to 4,000 copies and sold for between €200 and €400 each, have proven to be true marvels of luxury. But, for its creator, “the real luxury behind these books is to give them time. The time and perseverance to achieve great works” .
As each work is the result of a long quest, Diane de Selliers has defied the odds and dared to leave the traditional “rails” to devote herself entirely to her passion. And it was obviously a successful gamble. Inspiring, she has made her motto a way of life for thirty years now:
Follow your ideas and dreams to the end. All obstacles can be overcome or bypassed, passion and sense open many doors…
Read also > A SHORT HISTORY OF LUXURY: FROM AUDREY HEPBURN TO JAY-Z AND BEYONCÉ, THE CRAZY SAGA OF TIFFANY & CO.
Featured photo : © Diane de Selliers
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