With 30 Hand-Colored Holbein Images by Hollar, in a Lovely Binding


(London: Printed by C. Whittingham, for John Harding, 1804). 175 x 105 mm. (6 7/8 x 4 1/8"). 70 pp., [1] leaf (ads).Preface and description of plates by Francis Douce.

EXCELLENT CONTEMPORARY CRIMSON STRAIGHT-GRAIN MOROCCO, GILT, BY R. WALLIS for C. E. Lauriat (stamp-signed on verso of front free endpaper), covers with French fillet borders, circles at corners, raised bands, spine compartments with central floral sprig within a lozenge of small tools, acanthus leaves at corners, turn-ins with intricate floral roll, marbled endpapers, top edge gilt, other edges untrimmed. Engraved frontispiece portrait of Holbein, 30 PLATES AFTER WENCESLAUS HOLLAR'S ENGRAVINGS OF HANS HOLBEIN'S PAINTINGS, and a folding plate based on a woodcut from Lydgate's 1554 "Dance of Macabre," ALL HAND-COLORED. Neat older repair to fore edge of one leaf, other trivial imperfections, but AN ESPECIALLY FINE COPY, clean and fresh internally with attractive hand coloring, in a gleaming, unworn binding.

This is very appealing version, with an especially pretty binding and fine hand-colored images, of Holbein's haunting, darkly amusing depictions of Death and its victims. First appearing in book form in 1538, the Holbein images represent an important contribution to the traditional "Danse Macabre" genre by sharpening the humor and satire and heightening the drama, so that the engraved figures become part of a fully realized scene, not just members of the well-established processional dance. The final folding plate here shows that full parade as it appeared in a 16th century woodcut, allowing the viewer to contrast the styles. The 30 plates seen here are among the major engraved works of Hollar (1607-77); they were produced after the original Holbeins in Antwerp in 1651. This edition, nicely printed by Charles Whittingham (the uncle), first appeared in an undated version about 1794. Though his name is not mentioned in the book, the text here is written by the learned antiquary Francis Douce (1757-1834), Keeper of Manuscripts in the British Museum, and member of the Roxburghe Club. Copies of this title do appear from time to time in the marketplace, but we have only been able to trace two other hand-colored copies sold at auction.