Le Morte Darthur. The Birth Life and Acts of King Arthur of his Noble Knights of the Round Table.

MALORY Sir Thomas.; BEARDSLEY Aubrey (1893-4.)

£2250.00  [First Edition]

Available to view at our Curzon Street shop.

"Either I'm crazy, or this is genius"

Edited with an introduction by John Rhys, and with Caxton's preface. Five double-page and fifteen full-page illustrations, and over 500 ornamental initials, borders, headpieces, decorations in the text and cover design by Aubrey Beardsley. Initials printed in red. One of 1500 ordinary copies of the first edition in book form, with an additional 300 copies on Dutch handmade paper. Two volumes, (a third volume appeared in 1927 with eleven illustrations erroneously left out of this first edition). 4to., handsomely bound in original cream cloth, lavishly decorated in gilt to a design by Beardsley, t.e.g., others uncut. London, J.M. Dent & Co.

Very good, cloth spotted and spines faded as usual, however internally bright and clean, including original silk bookmarks. 

In 1892 the 21 year old Beardsley was introduced by Frederick Evans to the publisher J.M. Dent. Dent was at that time looking for an artist for a large illustrated edition of Malory's text, having rejected the work of Walter Crane and G.F. Watts and failed to secure Burne Jones. Dent asked for a trial drawing and Beardsley produced The Achieving of the Sangreal, described by Weintraub as "his first masterpiece", rendering the publisher "speechless with amazement" (Benkowitz) at its quality. The drawings, which took the medievalism of the Pre-Raphaelites and married it to the artist's own bizarre imagination and Japanese influenced style, are all the more remarkable for being his first work published outside his school magazine. Their contemporary impact can be measured from Lewis Hind's reaction on seeing some of the drawings for the first time: "Either I'm crazy, or this is genius". The work was a considerable success at the time and appeared in several different formats. The original form of issue in twelve undated parts which was quickly followed by the first book edition in both vellum and cloth bindings. It was then followed by later cloth bound single volume issues.

Stock Code: 243137

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