(Birmingham: 1907). 312 x 275 mm. (12 3/8 x 10 3/4").  leaves, illuminated on rectos only.
Pleasing original full vellum over bevelled boards, covers ruled in gilt and with gilt crosses in each corner, gilt lettering on upper cover, smooth spine, gilt rules dividing compartments with central gilt cross, thick vellum turn-ins ruled in gilt, bright purple silk endpapers (front joint very expertly repaired). Calligraphic lettering mostly in black, green, and red, a few one-line initials and many three-line initials in blue or purple with red penwork, several slightly larger purple or blue initials infilled with ivy of various colors and dotted with gold, EACH PAGE WITH A DIFFERENT ARTS & CRAFTS-INSPIRED FLORAL BORDER consisting of multi-colored blossoms and acanthus as well as meandering vine-stems, and highlighted with gold bezants or stippled gold, ONE LEAF WITH A 90 MM. INITIAL INHABITED BY A REALISTIC CATHEDRAL INTERIOR, the large lettering below it on a gold ground with etched patterns and painted purple ivy leaves, the text and the initial surrounded by pink roses, green leaves, and thorny vines. Corners a bit bumped, vellum with a few shallow scratches, slightly soiled in a few places, other minor signs of use, but the binding still quite clean and attractive; perhaps a hint of thumb-soiling to margins of a couple leaves, but the contents in nearly perfect condition.
This is a beautiful and engaging manuscript with imaginative illuminations by the little-known but extremely talented illuminator, calligrapher, and cartographer, Ernest Costain Clegg (1876-1954). The text here reproduces the Great Litany of the Church of England, derived from the Book of Common Prayer and composed of short divine petitions. Each leaf contains a different and unique border featuring stylized floral motifs, often with curving vines encircling the text, and a cheerful color palette consisting of clear pastels that beautifully offset the darker inks used in the text. The generous use of gold on the first leaf of text and gilt details throughout the borders provide a dimension of luxury without overshadowing the prayers themselves. Clegg draws on the Medieval tradition of manuscript illumination, but this work also shows the influence of the Arts & Crafts movement of the 19th century, especially in the beautiful initial inhabited by a realistic Cathedral interior pierced with light--a feature that invites comparison with the superlative work of Alberto Sangorski. But Clegg's reliance on a variety of floral decoration in his borders makes this manuscript more feminine than the typical work of Sangorski. Ernest Clegg entered the military in his early twenties, serving in the Boer War (1899-1902), then returned to England to train at the Birmingham School of Art. In 1909 he went to work for Tiffany's of New York as a jewelry designer. Clegg also served in the English forces during the First World War; afterwards, in America, his popularity in the veteran community led to more commissions and a thriving artistic career. Clegg is perhaps best known for illustrating the poem "In Flanders Fields," written by John McCrae, but he also found success as a cartographer, producing, among other works, a well-known map of Charles Lindbergh's flight across the Atlantic in 1927. (ST16456)
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PJP Catalog: 78.038