(San Francisco: David Magee, ). 341 x 270 mm. (13 3/8 x 10 5/8"). x, [iv], 134 pp.With an introduction by G. K. Chesterton. No. 1 OF 30 SPECIAL COPIES SIGNED BY CHESTERTON AND YUNGE (from an edition of 240).
Original bright red buckram, smooth spine with gilt lettering, top edge gilt, others untrimmed. Housed in a slightly worn grey cardboard slipcase. With 10 full-page black and white illustrations by John Yunge-Bateman, and with AN ADDITIONAL SUITE OF THE 10 PLATES PRINTED ON JAPANESE VELLUM AND SIGNED BY THE ARTIST, housed in a gray envelope and laid inside. With an old invoice and letter laid in, dated 1978, indicating that this item belonged to the publisher and was purchased by the bookseller from his estate. Top edges slightly bumped, a hint of offsetting from the plates, but in extremely fine condition.
This is an attractive printing of one of the greatest tragedies in the English language, with striking black & white illustrations highly reminiscent of the work of Harry Clarke and Aubrey Beardsley. Little has been written about our artist John Yunge-Bateman (1897-1971), though we know from Cave & Mason that he was championed by Christopher Sanford of the Golden Cockerel Press, who "found [his] drawings 'enticingly lush'" and commissioned the artist to illustrate two works for the press: the "Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam" (1958) and "Metamorphoses" (1959). In the present work, Yunge-Bateman--who signed his work simply "Yunge"--draws heavily from Japanese prints and the work of earlier artists like Beardsley, using black ink, bold patterns, and clean outlines to produce arresting designs laden with erotic and subversive imagery. Though best known today for his Father Brown mysteries, G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936) was a leading intellectual light in turn-of-the-century England, delighting in public disputes with George Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells, and Bertrand Russell. He was an influential literary and art critic, and a prolific essayist. Our copy of "King Lear" comes with a nice association, having been the personal copy of publisher David Magee, acquired from his estate in 1978. This book is uncommonly encountered even as one of 200 copies; it seems exceptionally rare in our strictly limited version of one of 30. We could trace just a single copy at auction (1991 at Swann, and without a mention of the extra suite of plates). (ST15976e)
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PJP Catalog: 76.230