(Edinburgh: John Murray, 1810). 280 x 215 mm. (11 x 8 1/2"). Two volumes. FIRST EDITION.
Once very handsome and still quite appealing contemporary citron straight-grain morocco, elaborately decorated in gilt and blind, covers with border of thick and thin gilt rules enclosing a delicate frame of closely spaced floral and foliate tools, central panel formed by similar gilt tools and a scalloped blind roll with oblique floral cornerpieces in blind, raised bands flanked by plain gilt and decorative blind rules, spine panels with gilt titling or intricately gilt lozenge centerpiece, turn-ins with gilt Greek key roll, all edges gilt. EACH VOLUME WITH A VERY BEAUTIFUL FORE-EDGE PAINTING OF ETON COLLEGE. First volume with engraved frontispiece portrait of Tasso by Raimbach after Flaxman, title pages with medallion portraits of Tasso and his father Bernardo Tasso (Volume I) and Alfonso d'Este and his wife Eleonora, Duke and Duchess of Ferrara. Lowndes I, 210. Spines sun-darkened, covers a little soiled, minor rubbing to joints and extremities, but the unsophisticated original bindings entirely solid and still attractive. Titles and flyleaves rather foxed, isolated minor foxing in text (errata leaf and one gathering in index rather browned), otherwise excellent internally, the text almost entirely clean, bright, and fresh, and with especially ample margins (perhaps qualifying as a Large Paper Copy).
Desribed by Lowndes as "a very valuable and elaborate work," this life of Tasso is based largely on an Italian biography by Serassi and on the study of Tasso's own works, which receive analysis here in the appendices. John Black (ca. 1777-1825) was a miscellaneous writer of poetry, drama, and literary criticism, as well as a translator of works in German and French. The present set contains two of the most beautifully executed fore-edge paintings we have ever offered for sale. The scenes show extremely pleasing views of Eton College, one of England's most famous "public" schools. The large size of the book has allowed the artist to create depth of field and to add numerous picturesque details, and he has not failed to capitalize on his opportunity. In both paintings, the school is viewed from the Thames, as if the viewer were in a boat in the middle of the river. The painting on the first volume is bathed with sunlight, with the college buildings clearly providing the central focus; the second scene, suffused with a reddish tint, presents the college farther in the distance at sundown. The daylight scene shows the pinnacles of the college chapel rising up against white clouds, while fishermen row their boats quietly on the river; the details of the trees, the river craft, and the buildings' architecture are very prominent. In the sunset scene, the fishermen strain to haul in their nets on the left, while on the right bank farther into the scene, students lounge beneath the trees, and a college building is reflected in the river. In this painting, because the buildings of the college are much further in the distance, the fiery sunset sky and the rows of lush trees on both riverbanks in the foreground receive more prominence. The artist at work here is obviously very skilled. He has carefully designed both scenes and has convincingly portrayed the tranquility of the venerable college and its environs. The painter's line is assured, the colors are extremely pleasing, and the scenes as a whole are characterized by obvious sophistication. (ST14310a)
Add to Cart Price: $2,500.00
PJP Catalog: 74.188