The First Illustrated Edition of the Celebrated Sandys Translation


(Oxford: by John Lichfield, 1632). 324 x 223 mm. (12 3/4 x 8 7/8"). 9 p.l., 38, [6], 51-124, 145-487, [1], 491-549, [1] pp. (without the initial blank). With erratic pagination, but text complete as per ESTC.Translated by George Sandys. Second Edition of Sandys' translation, and the first with these illustrations.

Contemporary mottled calf, covers with central gilt arabesque, sympathetically rebacked with new backstrip (corners repaired and hinges neatly reinforced, apparently at the same time), raised bands ruled in gilt, red morocco label with gilt lettering, all edges gilt. WITH ENGRAVED TITLE PAGE AND 16 PLATES (including a portrait of Ovid), by Salomon Savery after Frantz Klein. Front pastedown with bookplate of Stephan D. Winkworth and ink signature of Tho[ma]s Yarde dated 8 June 1852; front free endpaper with a quotation written in ink, seemingly in the same hand, and attributed (erroneously) to Dryden. STC 18966; Wither to Prior 782; Sabin 57984; Lowndes III, 1745; Schweiger II, 673; Graesse V, 83 ("elegante traduction"); Moss II, 357; ESTC S121877. ◆Cover leather a bit eroded (as nearly always with early mottled calf), and gouged, but the binding quite sound now and generally pleasing. First few leaves with fore edges expertly reinforced, a number of leaves at front and back with neat repairs to lower corners (and a few other marginal tears and repairs elsewhere), slight toning around edges, a few light marginal stains and other minor defects, but internally well preserved, the leaves quite fresh, and with excellent impressions of the plates.

This is a pleasant copy, with extremely ample margins, of an early printing of an important English translation of Ovid's profoundly influential "Metamorphoses," a loosely connected series of mythological tales that share the common narrative theme of transformation. After having begun his version in England, the translator, George Sandys (1578-1644), sailed to Virginia, where he became a planter and served on the government council, and it was there that he completed his work on Ovid, which was first published in its entirety in 1626. Dryden characterized Sandys, who was a skillful manipulator of meter, as the best versifier of the previous age, and Pope said that "English poetry owed much of its present beauty" to Sandys' work--a sentiment a previous owner inscribed in this volume, mistakenly attributing it to Dryden. The present 1632 printing was the first to contain the full-page engravings at the beginning of each book drawn by Frantz Klein and engraved by Salomon Savery (as well as to contain Sandys' version of the first book of Virgil's "Aeneid," a work he never fully translated). Klein (also Clein, Cleyn, or Kleyn, ca. 1595-1658), was an artist of many talents. He was employed for some time by Christian IV of Denmark, then emigrated first to Rome and later to England, where he designed tapestries for King James I, as well as decorated mansions and painted murals.

Price: $3,500.00