A Fine Fore-Edge Painting Unusual for Being Hidden under Elaborate Gauffering


(London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, & Green, 1828). 165 x 99 mm. (6 1/2 x 3 7/8"). 2 p.l., 376 pp.

Quite attractive contemporary dark green straight-grain morocco, ornately gilt, covers with 13 gilt or blind (mostly gilt) rules and frames (including an elegant palmette frame) with tulip cornerpieces at the board edges and scrolling foliate cornerpieces closer in, central panel with a large and elaborate lyre, raised bands, spine gilt in compartments with foliate cornerpieces and a central lyre surrounded by small tools, densely gilt turn-ins, all edges gilt and gauffered in a diapered pattern. WITH A FINE FORE-EDGE PAINTING OF AN ORIENTAL LANDSCAPE, VERY SURPRISINGLY HIDDEN BENEATH THE GAUFFERED EDGE. Extra engraved title page with vignette and three engraved plates after designs by Richard Westall. ◆Spine evenly sunned to a softer green, just a hint of wear to extremities, minor offsetting from and mild foxing to plates, but an excellent copy, the binding sound and pleasing, the text quite clean, fresh, and bright, and the fore-edge painting well preserved.

This is an especially rare and unusual example of a painting that is hidden beneath an elaborately gauffered fore edge. In 45 years of bookselling, we do not recall seeing this combination, particularly because the gauffering, when it is as elaborate as it is here, would normally make the painting seem noticeably indistinct. In the present case, however, the painted scene is not only clear, but also quite beautifully executed. In the foreground on the right is an ancient ruin, and from there we look out onto a river valley, with a white-domed mosque half hidden by trees, its minarets silhouetted against the blue sky and purple mountains in the distance. A river winds off to the left through the countryside, towards the dark blue and violet peaks on the horizon. It is an appropriate scene for Moore's exceedingly popular "Oriental Romance," one of the century's major bestsellers. Thomas Moore (1779-1852) achieved in his day a popularity among the London literati second only to Byron, a close friend for whom he served as literary executor and who contributed to Moore's success in both direct and indirect ways. The extraordinary popularity of "Lalla Rookh" was due in large measure to a vogue that had been established by Byron's exotic narratives. The work contains four Eastern tales loosely related to the title character (whose name means "Tulip Cheek"), an Indian princess who is journeying to meet her betrothed. Longman paid the author the astonishing sum of £3,000 for it without having seen a word. This payment was no doubt offered because Moore, like Byron, had tremendous romantic appeal for female readers at all levels of literate society. DNB tells us that in his own time, Moore was considered to be "a major poet" and that "through much of the nineteenth century 'Lalla Rookh' was admired and reprinted."

Price: $1,750.00