Le Morte d'Arthur.
The Text as Written by Sir Thomas Malory and Imprinted by William Caxton at Westminster The Year MCCCCLXXXV and now Spelled in Modern Style. With an Introduction by Professor Rhys; [with] Le Morte D'Arthur Portfolio. Reproductions of Eleven Designs Omitted from the First Edition of Le Morte D'Arthur Illustrated by Aubrey Beardsley and Published in MDCCCXCIII, also Those Made for the Covers of the Issue in Parts and a Facsimile Print of the Merlin Drawing. With a Foreword by Aymer Vallance and a Note on the Omitted Designs by Rainforth Armitage Walker. London: J. M. Dent, 1927London: J. M. Dent, 1893 Stock Code: 147939
A very nice set, unusually accompanied by the PortfolioFirst edition, one of 1,500 unnumbered ordinary paper copies (from a total edition of 1,800), bound to imitate the vellum binding which was reserved for the additional 300 large paper copies, and unusually accompanied by the Le Morte D'Arthur Portfolio, number 69 of 300 copies. The portfolio, issued in 1927, includes eleven illustrations that had been omitted from the first edition, and was issued uniform in size and binding with the 300 large paper copies, so that collectors could complete the set.
In 1892, seeking to emulate the books of the Kelmscott Press, John M. Dent commissioned the twenty-year-old Beardsley to produce this edition of Le Morte D'Arthur. The 351 designs appearing in the first edition required eighteen months for the artist to complete. Bored with the project, Beardsley at last refused to complete Dent's original projection of 500 drawings. Of this, Beardsley's first major work, John Lewis states: "In Le Morte D'Arthur Beardsley learnt his job, but the result is no bungling student's work If he had never illustrated another book, this edition of Morte D'Arthur could stand as a monument of decorative book illustration" (Lewis, The Twentieth Century Book, pp. 148-9).
Le Morte d'Arthur: 2 volumes, quarto. Later cream pigskin (c.1927), spines lettered in gilt, spines and front covers stamped in gilt with floral patterns, publisher's device to rear covers in gilt, cloth bookmarks, top edges gilt. The Morte Darthur Portfolio: quarto. Original quarter calf, vellum sides, spines and front covers stamped in gilt, top edge gilt.
Le Morte d'Arthur: illustrated frontispieces and 17 similar plates, black and white illustrations by Beardsley. Portfolio: engraved title, head- and tailpieces, initials, and 14 plates, one of which is tipped-in.
Le Morte d'Arthur: binding fresh, square and bright, contents somewhat toned, else clean and free from marks. Portfolio: joints partly split but firm, vellum bowed and soiled, contents clean. A very good set.
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