A Remarkably Fine Copy of the Deluxe Version Depicting War in the Crimea, Impressive Artistically and Technically, but Also as Pictorial Reporting


(London: Paul and Dominic Colnaghi & Co., 1855-56). 565 x 380 mm. (22 1/4 x 15"). Two volumes. FIRST EDITION, Second Issue (volume I with the key plates tipped in, but without the 12 pages of text, matching Abbey's copy).

Recent brown half morocco over original(?) purple-gray pebbled cloth boards, raised bands, compartments ruled in gilt and with gilt lettering, all edges gilt, newer marbled endleaves. WITH 81 BEAUTIFUL TINTED LITHOGRAPH PLATES, FINISHED IN COLOR BY HAND, including the two title pages (36 of which include the smaller key plates as called for by Abbey), all with (perhaps original) tissue guards, plus the lithograph dedication page in volume I, and an additional mounted plate at the end of volume I titled "Spring in Crimea" (unsigned and not called for by Abbey). Front pastedowns with 19th century monogram bookplate. Abbey Travel 237; Lipperheide 2121. Boards with a bit of fading and some minor scratches and stains, but a sturdy pair of bindings, with the newer morocco very attractive. Several plates and a few guards with very expert (and scarcely detectable) repairs to edges, title to volume II mounted on a tab; in all other ways, IN EXCEPTIONALLY FINE CONDITION, especially fresh, clean, and bright, and with the striking plates richly colored.

This is an excellent copy of the deluxe version--with plates colored by hand--of remarkable depictions of the Crimean War, executed by pioneering war artist William Simpson, who sketched the scenes from his own first-hand experience. The subjects depicted here include troop movements and encampments, battle scenes, batteries, burning buildings, views of the regional topography, and various sites of interest (both intact and in ruins). The artist was also concerned with the human toll exacted by the war, and the illustrations include softer, more intimate views such as an image of a hospital ward at Scutari (featuring a young Florence Nightingale), the Funeral Cortege of Lord Raglan, and a makeshift graveyard with a row of mounded graves covered in fresh snow. In Abbey's words, "These plates are indeed an impressive piece of work, not only artistically and technically, but also as pictorial reporting." The Crimean War (1853-56) was primarily a conflict over Orthodox and Catholic rights in the Holy Land, with Russia on one side and an alliance between England, France, Turkey, and Sardinia on the other. Artist William Simpson (1823-99) had been working for the lithographers Day & Son in London when hostilities broke out in 1853. DNB summarizes Simpson's movements and output in and around the Crimean Penninsula: "dispatched by the printsellers Colnaghi & Son (on Day's recommendation), he recorded the naval battles in the Baltic Sea and then went on to Balaklava in November 1854 to make accurate sketches on the spot. The drawings which he made during that terrible winter were submitted to Lord Raglan, sent home to England, and shown to Queen Victoria by the minister of war, the duke of Newcastle. After the fall of Sevastopol he was attached to the duke's party of exploration in Circassia. Eighty of his Crimean drawings were lithographed in [the present work], which was dedicated with permission to Queen Victoria." After Simpson's return to England, the queen became his regular patron and would commission work from him over the next 30 years. Although Simpson would go on to cover conflicts in India, Abyssinia, Prussia, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, the popularity of the present work earned him the sobriquet "Crimean Simpson" and cemented his reputation as one of the leading war correspondents of the 19th century.

Price: $19,500.00