(Hammersmith: Eragny Press, 1906). 211 x 138 mm. (8 1/4 x 5 3/8"). 2 p.l. (first blank), 59,  pp. ONE OF 175 COPIES ON PAPER and 10 copies on vellum.
Restrained red crushed morocco, gilt lettering on upper cover, flat spine. Very fine frontispiece of a lute player printed in four colors, woodcut border on first page of text (both of these with original tissue guards), decorative woodcut initials in red, and printer's device on final page, all designed by Lucien Pissarro and engraved by Esther Pissarro. Printed in red and black; many pages with printed music. Urbanelli, p. 123; Ransom, p. 263; Tomkinson, p. 65. Slight opening to gutter at title page, but an immaculate copy in an unworn binding.
This is a typically charming volume--here presenting music from the works of a prominent Jacobean playwright--produced by an English private press noted for small, gentle volumes featuring colored wood engravings with a French flavor. Excepting only Shakespeare, Ben Jonson (1572-1637) was the most important literary figure of his age, and for the 21 years that he lived after Shakespeare's death, Jonson was the unquestioned ruler in all things literary. In 1616, he was the first playwright to publish his collected dramatic works, and in the same year, he became England's first (though unofficial) poet laureate. Nobody before or after him has ever displayed the fascinating characters of London so vividly on the stage. Operated between 1894 and World War I by Lucien and Esther Pissarro, the Eragny Press produced charming books of the highest quality but in design unlike the other major private presses at work in England. The delicate wood engravings, the typically patterned paper bindings, and in general the inclination to be fresh and pretty rather than elegant, grand, or luxuriant gave this press a distinctive place in the movement. Lucien, who studied art under his father, the Impressionist painter Camille Pissarro, came to England hoping to get his woodcuts published and searching for an opportunity to make lovely books, two goals that were accomplished with the help of Charles Ricketts, the founder of the Vale Press, who shared his newly created Vale Type with Pissarro. Cave says that the Eragny Press books "had a charm and freshness quite unlike anything to be found in the work of any other private press, and in the printing of colored wood engravings in particular the press excelled." It is not surprising that Cave uses as his illustration to demonstrate this assertion the frontispiece of the lute player that appears in the present book. This is one of the more uncommon Eragny items in the marketplace: the last copy we could trace at auction sold in 2013. (ST15951)
Add to Cart Price: $2,250.00
PJP Catalog: Rawson_76.