(London: Printed for T. Payne, 1810). 194 x 124 mm. (7 5/8 x 4 7/8"). 2 p.l., lxxxvii, [i], 188 pp. FIRST EDITION.
Harmless contemporary purple straight-grain morocco, covers with gilt fillet border, raised bands flanked by plain gilt rules, gilt titling, all edges gilt. WITH AN EXCELLENT LATER FORE-EDGE PAINTING OF THE ACROPOLIS. Joints somewhat rubbed and flaked, boards a little stained and rather faded, rear board with two small abraded patches, otherwise an excellent copy, clean and fresh internally, in a solid, inoffensive binding, and with a vividly colored painting in fine condition.
These two librettos are based on Euripides' tragedies "Medea" and "Alcestis." "Cornelia" transports the story of Medea's revenge on her faithless husband to Roman Britain, while Alcestis' story of self-sacrifice and redemption retains its original setting and cast of characters. The fore-edge painting salutes the classical origins of the operas with a striking depiction of the Acropolis, rising majestically on its hill, surrounded by open countryside with blue mountains in the distance. The foreground is populated by two tourists, sitting on a rock admiring the view, and four brightly dressed Greek peasants. Our view shows a sophisticated sense of design as well as a delicacy of painterly strokes, and the whole scene looks very convincing. The intricate gradations in the shading, seen especially in the fields and sky, are remarkable, and the highly skilled use of shadows establishes a strong sense of three-dimensionality. There is a great deal to see in terms of activity, landscape, and architecture, and all of it is painted in careful, convincing detail. It is easy to recognize the work of the so-called "Dover Painter," as it shows his distinctive style of applying small dabs of paint; this method is especially effective in producing convincing texture for skies, trees, shrubs, and grass. "Dover Painter" is the name given by Jeff Weber to the person who painted in the 1920s and '30s, probably for the famous London bookseller Marks & Company. British writer James Mason (1778/9-1827) wrote political pamphlets advocating parliamentary reform and Catholic emancipation, as well as several plays, an epistolary novel, and translations from the classics. (ST12252)
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PJP Catalog: 67.156