Volpone: or the Fox.
A new edition with a critical essay on the author by Vincent O'Sullivan and a frontispiece, five initial letters and a cover design illustrative and decorative by Aubrey Beardsley, together with an eulogy of the artist by Robert Ross.London: Leonard Smithers and Co, 1898 Stock Code: 137872
First Beardsley edition, deluxe issue copy, being number 29 of 100 copies printed on japon and specially bound in full vellum, with a further 1,000 copies on art paper also issued and bound in blue cloth. In November 1897 Beardsley was commissioned to produce the artwork for a deluxe edition of Volpone, with 24 illustrations including a frontispiece, decorative initials and a front cover design envisaged. He died on 16 March 1898 having only completed the illustrations included here. This was, however, a project that Beardsley was passionate about, writing "I am making pictures of Ben Jonson's adorable and astonishing Volpone" and "I carry Volpone about with me from dawn to dawn and dream of nothing else". He considered his illustration for "Volpone Adoring His Treasure" (the frontispiece) as "one of the strongest things I have ever done" (cited in James G. Nelson, Publisher to the Decadents, 2000, p. 163).
Large quarto. Original vellum, spine lettered in gilt, front cover with overall design by Beardsley incorporating title blocked in gilt, publisher's device blocked in gilt to rear cover, top edge gilt, others untrimmed.
Printed cover design, frontispiece and 6 vignettes by Beardsley, the vignettes reproduced in large size in photogravure, title printed in red and black.
Ink ownership inscription to front free endpaper, discreet German bookseller's ticket to front pastedown. Front board somewhat bowed, vellum generally a little dust soiled and the gilt somewhat dulled to spine, loss to lower fore-corner of leaf AA4 (not affecting text, perhaps a production fault), internally clean and sound, very good condition overall.
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