(London: Riccardi Press, for the Medici Society, 1929). 217 x 145 mm. (8 5/8 x 5 5/8"). xliv, 432, 531 pp.
PLEASING MARBLED CALF, GILT, BY RIVIERE & SON (stamp-signed on verso of front free endpaper), covers with star-and-lozenge roll border, raised bands, spine compartments with capital "A" at center, curling vines at corners, one red and one green morocco label, densely gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. WITH 24 FULL-PAGE COLOR PLATES AFTER WATERCOLOR DRAWINGS BY W. RUSSELL FLINT. Green label a little faded, joints with just a hint of wear, occasional minor foxing, otherwise fine--clean and fresh internally, the bright plates with rich colors, and the attractive binding showing few signs of use.
Originally produced by the Riccardi Press for the Medici Society in 1920 as a two-volume set, this is an attractive variant printed on thin paper that makes possible an edition to be issued in one—in this case, handsomely bound—volume. Written in the 15th century by Thomas Malory (ca. 1405-71), the sweeping "Mort d'Arthur," an English version (despite the title) of earlier chivalric tales in French, includes the youth of Arthur, the romance of Guinevere and Launcelot, the quest for the Grail, and the tragedy of Tristram and Iseult. PMM says that the text, the most famous version of all the Arthurian legends, is nothing less than "the matter of England." And Malory's "style, the humor, the magnificence, that magic that takes away the breath, combine [here] in a masterpiece of legendary narrative." Sir William Russell Flint (1880-1969), who produced pictures in a variety of media, is best known to book collectors as the illustrator of a number of literary classics for the Medici Society, printed by the Riccardi Press. The illustrations here are reminiscent of Pre-Raphaelite paintings, a style ideally suited to tales of knights in shining armor and damsels in distress. Riviere is one of the foremost names in English binding, partly because the firm did consistently fine work and partly because it was so long in business. Robert Riviere began as a bookseller and binder in Bath in 1829, then set up shop as a binder in London in 1840; in 1881, he took his grandson Percival Calkin into partnership, at which time the firm became known as Riviere & Son, and the bindery continued to do business until 1937, when it was acquired by the Bayntun bindery of Bath. Bayntun-Riviere is still operated by the Bayntun family. (ST16866w)