(London and Edinburgh: Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme; and for A. Constable by James Ballantyne, 1805). 213 x 133 mm. (8 3/8 x 5 1/4"). 334 pp. Second Edition.

Contemporary red straight-grain morocco, covers bordered by gilt rule and cresting blind roll, flat spine divided into panels by single gilt rules, gilt titling, turn-ins with gilt bead roll, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. WITH A FORE-EDGE PAINTING OF DUMBARTON CASTLE AND THE RIVER CLYDE. In a paper slipcase. Joints significantly rubbed (but this well masked with dye), small notch out at top of front joint, slight wear with a bit of loss at corners and spine ends, minor spotting and darkening to boards, other trivial defects externally, but the binding still firm and entirely satisfactory. Scattered foxing at edges, leaves less than bright because of paper stock, but the text still fresh, and the dramatic fore-edge painting well preserved.

The action in the fore-edge painting here is an appropriate complement to Scott's "Lay of the Last Minstrel," a tale chronicling the trials of a pair of lovers whose bitterly feuding border families resort to sorcery to keep them apart. Set in the 16th century, the narrative poem comprises six cantos of rhymed iambic tetrameter couplets, glossed by Scott's extensive notes, and introduced with an unsigned preface (probably Scott's) which calls the poem a "Metrical Romance." When it was first published in 1805, the "Minstrel" made Scott the most important Scottish poet of the 19th century before Lord Byron. In our painting, the number of ships depicted in the river before the ancient fortress suggests something between a busy harbor and a naval skirmish. There are two tall ships in full rigging, four sailboats, and two smaller rowed vessels. We can see sailors and other hands hard at work, struggling with sails and oars. In the background, the black basalt cliffs and the forbidding Dumbarton Castle provide a contrasting stolidity to the marine activity. Because of its characteristic palette and the treatment of the sky, the work here appears to be that of the so-called "Dover Painter," the name given by Jeff Weber to the artist who executed very high quality painted fore edges in the 1920s and 1930s. He did work for the famous London bookseller Marks & Company, for Dawson's Bookshop in Los Angeles, and for J. W. Robinson Company, the Los Angeles department store. Estelle Doheny (1875-1958), whose library comprised one of the great collections of the 20th century, bought actively from Dawson's, and Weber estimates that approximately half of the very considerable number of especially fine fore-edge paintings in the Doheny collection in Camarillo, California, were done by the Dover Painter.

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PJP Catalog: 67.160


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