WILDE, Oscar.

The Sphinx.

With Decorations by Charles Ricketts.

London: Elkin Mathews and John Lane, 1894 Stock Code: 131703
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A notably attractive copy

First edition, first impression. Although the stated limitation was of 200 copies, there appear to have been 303 copies printed, with 128 copies left standing unbound in quires and it is possible that this copy was bound for Hatchards from one of the remaining unbound sheets (see Nelson). Wilde's poem, together with Charles Ricketts's art nouveau illustrations made even W. E. Henley, Wilde's severest critic, describe the Sphinx as "about as fin-de-Siecle a business as you ever saw" (Frankel, p. 155). Ricketts first met Wilde in 1889 and during the next couple of years designed either parts or the entirety of several of the author's works, including The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891), Poems (1892; limited edition), Intentions (1891), and Lord Arthur Savile's Crime (1891) (Hart-Davies, p. 249). While predominantly working with book illustration and design, Rickett was also famed for his theatre designs and costumes, and he contributed to the first English production of Wilde's Salomé in 1906.

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Small quarto. Contemporary half vellum for Hatchards, green cloth sides, titles in gilt to green morocco labels to spine, floral motif in gilt to spine in compartments, marbled endpapers, top edge gilt, green silk bookmark.


Text printed in red, green, and black. Title page design, one half-page illustration, and 8 full-page illustrations by Ricketts.


Contemporary ownership inscription of "M. De Mérey" to half-title, possibly Belgian soprano Jane Mérey (1872-1939), pupil of Rosine Laborde in Paris. Bookplate and shelf label of Hubert Beaumont to front pastedown. Front board bowed, vellum a little soiled, a touch of very faint foxing; a very good, notably bright, copy.


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