(STOTHARD, THOMAS). BRAY, ANNA ELIZA.
LIFE OF THOMAS STOTHARD, R. A.(London: John Murray, 1851). 216 x 171 mm (8 1/2 x 6 3/4"). xxiv, 246 pp. FIRST EDITION.
EXCELLENT CONTEMPORARY DARK GREEN MOROCCO, HANDSOMELY GILT, BY JAMES TOOVEY (stamp-signed on front flyleaf), covers with French fillet border, raised bands, heavily gilt spine compartments featuring scrolling cornerpieces and large and intricate floral centerpiece, turn-ins densely gilt with botanical tools, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. Frontispiece portrait, engraved title page frame, and more than 50 illustrations in the text. Spine evenly faded to a pleasing olive brown, covers with just a touch of fading and soiling, a handful of pages with extensive freckled foxing, trivial to minor foxing in much of the rest of the text, but still an extremely fresh copy in a scarcely worn, very attractive decorative binding.
This is an intimate biographical account of the well-respected and prolific illustrator Thomas Stothard (1755-1834), written by his novelist daughter-in-law. Our artist's career began in 1779 when he executed drawings for magazines, and by the time he put down his pen, Stothard had illustrated an enormous number of works, including those by Bunyan, Cervantes, Defoe, Fielding, Goldsmith, Milton, Pope, Richardson, Shakespeare, Smollett, Spenser, Sterne, and Swift. More than 3,000 of the artist's designs were engraved, and nearly all are in the British Museum. His greatest achievement may be that in all of this work, he distinguished himself by variety of invention and sympathy with the individual text he was illustrating. Stothard also produced designs for larger prints published separately, among them "Callisto" and "Zephyrus and Flora," subsequently engraved by William Blake, Stothard's friend and frequent collaborating engraver. And he was a celebrated oil painter; in fact, his work on canvas, more than anything else, earned him membership in the Royal Academy as well as requests to paint decorations for the grand staircases at Burleigh House and the Advocates' Library in Edinburgh. In addition to producing book illustrations, prints, and paintings, Stothard designed elegant household objects in gold and silver. The author Anna Eliza Bray (1790-1883) married Stothard's son, Charles Alfred Stothard, also an artist. Between 1826 and 1874, Bray published at least a dozen works of fiction, her most popular novels being those based on the history of the principal families of the counties of Devon and Cornwall, where she lived. The best of these may be "The Borders of the Tamar and Tavy" (1836), written in the form of letters to the poet Robert Southey. In the midst of writing fiction, she took the time to write a biography of her late husband (1823) in addition to the present work. (ST11016)