Designs for Mr. R. Bentley for Six Poems by Mr. T. Gray.
Printed for J. Dodsley,
Fourth edition overall, expanded from the three editions of 1753 with further Odes, of this large, elaborately illustrated publication of the best-known works of the poet Gray, including the Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard. A presentation copy of H. A. J. Munro's translation of the Elegy into Latin (c. 1873) is tipped-in at the rear endpapers.
"This volume appeared only after a great deal of persuasion on the part of Horace Walpole (1717-97); the reclusive Thomas Gray was reluctant to be seen to be promoting his own work and insisted that the book's title should stress Richard Bentley's role as designer. Walpole was already considering setting up his own press and this splendid publication must have encouraged him to do so just four years later" (British Museum, curatorial comment for their first edition copy). Bentley's "designs for Gray's poems were deemed by Hanns Hammelmann to be 'a turning-point in British decorative art'. Their complement of visual puns and pictorial allusions to other works of art gives the interplay of the sister arts an unexpectedly provocative coherence" (ODNB).
Tall quarto (372 x 264 mm). 19th-century half morocco, spine lettered in gilt, marbled sides and endpapers.
With 6 full-page copperplate engravings including frontispiece, and 13 engraved vignettes including title vignette.
Contemporary ownership signature to title page; a few pencilled notes; with clipping on the sale of a first edition of the Elegy on the front free endpaper, a facsimile of the original manuscript of the same on the rear pastedown, a further clipping on Wolfe's reading of the poem in the Battle of Quebec to the rear binder's blank, autograph letter regarding the Latin translation (see below) tipped-in. Rubbed, light browning, light staining at foot. A very good copy.
ESTC T127826; Northup 185; Hazen 42.
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