A Remarkable Product of the California Arts & Crafts Movement: a Book Illuminated by Maud Alma Thomson and Apparently Bound by Louise Schwamm and Morgan Stewart

THE HOUSE OF LIFE.

(Edinburgh: W. J. Hay, 1904). 225 x 162 mm. (9 x 6 1/2"). [67] leaves, printed on recto only (without the limitations page). ONE OF 150 COPIES PRINTED (see below).

Pretty slate blue crushed morocco signed "L. S. - M. S. 1907" (Louise Schwamm and Morgan Stewart) on rear turn-in, covers with gilt frame of two sets of double gilt rules separated by two alternating rows of gilt dots, the corners and center of each side with a square containing a Tudor rose, a large gilt dot at each corner of the square, raised bands, spine compartments with Tudor rose framed by two gilt fillets separated by a row of dots, the dots at corners a bit larger, gilt lettering, gilt-ruled turn-ins, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. Photographic reproduction of an illustrated manuscript by Phoebe Anna Traquair printed on substantial paper, EACH PAGE ELABORATELY HAND-COLORED AND ILLUMINATED BY MAUD ALMA THOMSON. Front pastedown with bookplate of Syracuse, New York, attorney Ephraim James Page (1867-1950). Spine just slightly and evenly darkened, the usual offsetting to endpapers from morocco turn-ins, but a very fine copy, quite clean and fresh internally, with vivid colors and glistening gold, in a binding with virtually no signs of use.

This collection of songs and sonnets by Pre-Raphaelite artist and poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-82) is enhanced by the work of two, and possibly three, women artists from the Arts & Crafts Movement in Britain and America. The text here was originally written out and illuminated by the first Scottish woman to make a significant impact as a professional artist, Phoebe Anna Traquair (1852-1936). According to her biographer, Elizabeth Cumming, she was "a unique figure in British culture" and "a key figure in the Arts and Crafts movement. A free spirit, Traquair celebrated life through image, colour and texture, taking her inspiration from Renaissance painting, the art and poetry of Blake and the music of Wagner. She produced . . . vast, breath-taking mural decorations . . . sensual embroideries . . . exquisite illuminated manuscripts and enamels." The limitations page for this work, omitted here for some unclear reason by the binder, stated: "The following pages are plain photographic reproductions of an illuminated manuscript made on vellum for my brother, Mr. William Richardson Ross. They are here reproduced with his permission, and from negatives made by him. For sanction to use the text I have to thank Mr. William Rossetti and Messrs. Ellis and Elvey. One hundred and fifty copies have been reproduced. P. A. Traquair." The final page is inscribed in ink, "Illuminated by Maud Alma Thomson." Born in California, Thomson (1880-1961) studied at Horace Mann Grammar School, trained at the Mark Hopkins Art Institute, and worked as an artist, primarily painting portraits in watercolors, until her marriage. She also illuminated at least one other work illustrated by Traquair, an 1897 edition of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's "Sonnets from the Portuguese." The two sets of initials stamped on the present binding suggest a partnership rather than a single binder, and Maud Thomson offers us a clue to the possible identity of the collaborators. The Arts & Crafts Movement had found a foothold in bohemian San Francisco by the turn of the century; in November 1902, the California Guild of Bookbinders held their first exhibition of local talent. According to a review in the December 1902 edition of the "Mark Hopkins Institute Review of Art," two of the founding members and exhibitors were Louise Schwamm and Morgan Shepard. Schwamm (1870-1958) had, like Thomson, attended the Mark Hopkins Art Institute. From 1898-1903, Morgan Shepard (1864-1947) was a partner in the publishing and bookselling firm of Elder & Shepard, which hosted the exhibitions of the California Bookbinding Guild. More an artist than a businessman, he left the firm to study design. Eventually, he would find his calling as a writer and illustrator of children's books and magazines under the name "John Martin." Both Schwamm and Shepard are mentioned in Tidcombe's discussion of California binders in "Women Bookbinders 1880-1920" (p. 186). While there is no way to know for sure, it is more than just possible that Schwamm and Shepard carried out the designing and execution of this binding together, perhaps dividing the duties of forwarding and finishing. They clearly knew each other through the Bookbinding Guild, and it is more than likely that one or both knew Thomson--Schwamm perhaps as a fellow alumnae of Mark Hopkins Art Institute, Shepard as a member of the relatively small San Francisco Arts & Crafts community.
(ST17129-012)

Add to Cart Price: $9,500.00

PJP Catalog: NY22BF.043

THE HOUSE OF LIFE. ILLUMINATED BOOKS, PHOEBE ANNA TRAQUAIR, MAUD ALMA THOMSON, DANTE GABRIEL, Illuminator. ROSSETTI.
THE HOUSE OF LIFE.
THE HOUSE OF LIFE.
THE HOUSE OF LIFE.
THE HOUSE OF LIFE.
THE HOUSE OF LIFE.
THE HOUSE OF LIFE.
THE HOUSE OF LIFE.
THE HOUSE OF LIFE.