If Arthur Rackham was considered to be the most universally popular artist in the Golden Age of childrenís story illustration, Edmund Dulac ranked a close second, and many connoisseurs judged him to be the greater of the two. Dulacís expressive use of colour, hitherto unprecedented in British illustration, combined with a passionate interest in Persian and Indian miniatures, evoked all the mystery and exoticism of the East.
Describing Dulacís colour plates, one critic observed,
"...they are colour feasts for the eye".
Dulac was born in Toulouse, France ,22 October 1882, the son of a commercial traveller. He began drawing and painting at a very early age, and his holidays were spent copying Japanese prints. Inspired by the works of Walter Crane and William Morris, he soon became an Anglophile. He decided to concentrate of magazine illustration and, as England was the most lucrative field for such work, London was the natural Mecca of his dreams. Armed with large portfolio of drawings and a list of London publishers, he settled there permanently in 1904.
Dulac was soon in the realm of Arthur Rackham but as opposed to Rackham, who usually preferred to tint his pen and ink originals with a minimum of colour, Dulac remained true to the medium of watercolour, and the critics were unanimous in their praise. He was recognised as a master of the fantastic and exotic.
During the last fifteen years of his life, Dulac gained a permanent worldwide audience for his artwork as a pioneer designer of postage stamps and banknotes. His first design was the brown Coronation stamp (12 May 1937) with a joint portrait of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. Many more followed. In the early 1940ís Dulac was chosen by Charles de Gaulle to design all the banknotes and postage stamps of France Libre which carried the unifying symbol of the Cross of Lorraine. After the War Dulac designed the banknotes of Spain, Italy, Turkey and several other countries.