(London: Smith, Elder, & Co., 1875-86). 220 x 140 mm. (8 3/4 x 5 1/2"). Seven volumes. FIRST EDITIONS.
FINELY MADE AND QUITE ATTRACTIVE EARLY 20TH CENTURY GREEN CRUSHED MOROCCO BY RIVIERE & SON (stamp-signed on front turn-in), covers with a border of gilt rules, dots, and tulip cornerpieces, raised bands, compartments with gilt tulip stamps, gilt lettering, gilt turn-ins, top edge gilt, others trimmed, volumes V-VII partially unopened. Italian Literature - Part I with frontispiece portrait of the author. ◆Spines uniformly faded to a light brown (as very often with green morocco), perhaps a breath of rubbing to joints and edges, three inconsequential tears (one repaired), but a handsome set with next to no signs of use.
Making a lovely appearance on the shelf, this handsomely bound set contains an expansive series of essays about the art, culture, religious turmoil, and most powerful personalities of the Italian Renaissance, comprising a single work but with separately published parts appearing over the course of a dozen years. Britannica calls the work "fluent and picturesque," and DNB adds that "a gift for dramatized sketches enlivens [Symonds'] massive history." The volumes comprise: "The Age of the Despots" (1875); "The Revival of Learning" (1877); "The Fine Arts" (1877); "Italian Literature, Parts I & II" (1881); and "The Catholic Reaction, Parts I & II" (1886). John Addington Symonds (1840-93) was a writer, translator, and cultural historian who wrote frequently on matters of art and history, as well as composing essays and poetry in support of male love--including what DNB calls "the first history of homosexuality in English." Although Symonds suffered from poor health for much of his life (possibly in part due to the mental anguish he experienced in trying to repress his own homosexuality), his oeuvre was nevertheless prolific. As DNB tells us, "In twenty years he wrote nearly forty books, plus uncollected reviews and unpublished poems, and more than 4,000 letters, of which half survive especially to his friends Henry Graham Dakyns, Henry Sidgwick, Walt Whitman (whose work he popularized), Edmund Gosse, Robert Louis Stevenson and his wife, Samuel Richards, Vernon Lee (née Violet Paget), Mary Robinson, and Arthur Symons." The lovely Arts & Crafts-inspired bindings on this set are the work one of the foremost names in English binding. 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 1939. The firm produced consistently fine work over the course of more than a century, and these bindings--which are made with the highest quality of materials and finished with considerable skill--are clearly part of that tradition. (ST18229)