Illustrated & Artist's Books

Natalie T. Blaney

Timon of Athens.

William Shakespeare. Timon of Athens. Nacogdoches, TX: LaNana Creek Press, 2003. Illustrations by Wyndham Lewis. Printed on Johannot by d’Arches paper in Della Robbia type using a Vandercook Universal III press; illustrations printed on archival art paper. No. 21/100.

I collect early twentieth-century modernist poetry, especially Ezra Pound and writers associated with him. Wyndham Lewis was an avant-garde artist and writer and close collaborator with Pound in pre-World War I London. This book represents the fulfillment (however belated) of Lewis’s 1912 ambition to illustrate Timon of Athens in book form. Lewis created the artwork for Timon and published a portfolio of the drawings in 1913, but could not find a publisher who would produce it using his art. Ninety years later, thanks to the collaboration of Charles D. Jones of LaNana Creek Press and Omar Pound, Timon of Athens was published as Lewis envisioned, taking its imagery from Pound’s personal copy of Lewis’s extremely rare 1913 portfolio.

Philip E. Bowles

The Ristigouche and Its Salmon Fishing. The Ristigouche and Its Salmon Fishing.

Dean Sage. The Ristigouche and Its Salmon Fishing. First edition. Edinburgh: David Douglas, 1888. Edition of 105.

Among other superlatives, experts in the rare-book world have described Ristigouche to me as being of almost legendary beauty, rarity, and importance. I agree, and it’s also my view that this is the most beautiful book on salmon fishing. I enjoy sporting books, and I enjoy finely printed books. Unlike many of its fellows, this book carries both attributes. If it has a flaw, it is that the prose is workmanlike and uninspired. But the dedication compensates for that: “To my father, to whom I owe the leisure which has enabled me to write it.” Sage grew up in great wealth, and had the sense to be grateful for his good fortune.

Caroline Y. Brandt

Portmeirion. Portmeirion.

Robin Llywelyn, with images by Leslie Gerry. Portmeirion. Risbury, Herefordshire, England: Whittington Press, 2009, 2⅜ x 1⅝ in. No. 104 of 200 copies with slipcase, signed by Gerry. Letterpress printed in red and black in 5½ pt. Adobe Caslon type on Somerset mould-made paper under the supervision of John Randle.

Portmeirion tells the story of the building of this North Wales resort village in the 1920s by the author’s grandfather, architect Clough Williams-Ellis. This volume has all the qualities I look for in a miniature book. It is visually appealing in an attractive and well-made binding that coordinates with the contents. The concertina construction allows the book to be opened fully for display. The print, while necessarily small, is very legible. I find the text extremely interesting and the eight color giclée-printed illustrations enchanting.

My lifetime collection of miniature books, covering six centuries and numbering over 14,000 titles, is housed in the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia. However, this book was of such special interest to me that I purchased this second copy to keep.

Lord Browne of Madingley

Raccolta delle cose più notabili vedute da Giovanni Wilkins erudite vescovo Inglese nel suo famoso viaggio dalla Terra alla Luna, con i disegni di animali, e machine a noi incognite e dal medesimo descritte nella sua celebre istoria. Raccolta delle cose più notabili vedute da Giovanni Wilkins erudite vescovo Inglese nel suo famoso viaggio dalla Terra alla Luna, con i disegni di animali, e machine a noi incognite e dal medesimo descritte nella sua celebre istoria.

Filippo Morghen (1730–1807). Raccolta delle cose più notabili vedute da Giovanni Wilkins erudite vescovo Inglese nel suo famoso viaggio dalla Terra alla Luna, con i disegni di animali, e machine a noi incognite e dal medesimo descritte nella sua celebre istoria. [Naples, c. 1767–1768].

Provenance: Arthur and Charlotte Vershbow.

Although the focus of my collection is on Venetian illustrated books and prints, these engravings published in Naples were irresistible. The nine prints describe an imaginary voyage to the moon and show the Amerindian-like lunarians living in a vast swamp, on floating platforms or in hollowed-out pumpkin houses, domesticating fowl, fishing, and hunting fantastic beasts. The exotic images belong with Tiepolo’s “Capricci” and “Scherzi,” and the unbuildable prisons of Piranesi, among the medium’s most imaginative and original works. As an engineer, I’m intrigued by the lunar technology: giant bellows worked to fill sails, and a gigantic mousetrap operated by windlass and pulley.

Stephen Bury

[Cleanskins]. [Cleanskins].

Stevie Deas. [Cleanskins]. [London]: Piece of Paper Press, 2007. Edition of 150.

Each book in Tony White’s Piece of Paper Press series consists of a single A4 sheet, photocopied or desktop printed on both sides. The sheets are then folded to make a sixteen-page booklet, stapled and trimmed by hand. The edition is not distributed commercially.

Cleanskins refer to terrorist suspects unknown to the intelligence services, including Hasib Hussain, who blew up a No. 30 bus in the July 2005 London bombings. With a pen held directly against a sheet of paper, Deas records the motions of a journey on the same bus route (Marble Arch to Hackney Wick).

My primary collecting interest is artists’ books, i.e., books where the artist has had a major say over their final appearance. My collection ranges from 1963 to today. In many respects Cleanskins is atypical of my collection, but it fascinates me. All Piece of Paper Press books show how books are made and that anyone can make a book. But in this case, the artist has also interrogated what narrative is or can be—a journey, usually described in text or photograph, is reduced/elevated to the random movements of a pen.

Davida Tenenbaum Deutsch

Cours de danse fin de siècle. Cours de danse fin de siècle.

Érastène Ramiro (pseud. Eugene Rodrigues). Cours de danse fin de siècle. Illustrations by Louis Legrand. Paris: E. Dentu, 1892. Binding by Marius Michel, with a black mosaic title and an incised roundel painted to represent Le Moulin de la Galette.

Provenance: Henri Beraldi.

A unique copy for Henri Beraldi, with six watercolors and five proofs of each of the eleven plates (including one hand colored by Legrand) depicting dance positions, in aquatint and soft ground etching on Japan paper (signed in pencil and/or on the plate).

My diverse library, which largely reflects my study of American women’s education from the late seventeenth through the early nineteenth centuries, includes needlework pattern books, women’s magazines and courtesy books, drawing and calligraphy manuals, and children’s books. But for beauty and humor, I have amassed a small collection of prints and books by Louis Legrand (1863–1951), whose representation of turn-of-the century Paris ignites my soul just as they did his patrons, including Henri Beraldi, bibliophile extraordinaire, author, and president of the Société des Amis des Livres from 1901 to 1931. He collected Legrand’s prints and books, and original artwork, including that for this book (also in my collection). Together these illuminate publishing, collecting and society of the time.

I also have three other copies of Cours de danse, two of which have four proofs of each of the plates on Japan imperial paper (numbered 44 and 46), spectacular bindings by Ralli and Michel respectively, and a single watercolor tipped in each. My other copy is very basic: single proofs of the engravings on velin, number 77 out of 350 copies.

Elizabeth Howard

Un Vivo Sol. Un Vivo Sol.

Ned O’Gorman (1929–2014). Un Vivo Sol. Torcello, Italy, 2004.

Ned O’Gorman was a child when he:

"decided I could write a poem. I told myself that if what I wrote pleased me and was a poem, I would be a poet. I took up a pencil and wrote. Snow beyond, sunlight on the carpet. The intricate and delicate carvings of vines and fruit along the edge of the table, the green baize center like a little lawn. The warmth of the Franklin stove, the icicles hanging from the windows. My hand on the pencil, writing. I was there in my enclosed garden. I finished my poem, looked at it, and what I read I determined was a poem." (The Other Side of Loneliness, 2006, 86.)

He published seven books of poetry and was awarded the Lamont Poetry Selection from the Academy of American Poets for his first book of poetry, The Night of the Hammer, in 1959.

Eventually he began painting, making collages, small sculptures and artist’s books.  The visual art reflects the same lyric imagery, primary colors, playfulness, despair, and desire one finds in his poetry. “… I bring you flaring squares, circles, perpendiculars and trapezoids; I bring you color from the sun. I bring you folderol….” (“L’Annunciazione from Bellini,” in Five Seasons of Obsession, New and Selected Poems, 2001, 18)

Josephine Lea Iselin

Vol. 1 of My Sketch Book.

George Cruikshank (1792–1878). Vol. 1 of My Sketch Book. [London:] George Cruikshank, 1834[–36].

George Cruikshank designed, etched and published this album of thirty-six hand-colored caricatures of daily life during the period 1833–36 and sold them through the London bookseller and publisher Charles Tilt. These copper etchings were issued in nine separate publications, containing four each, in yellow wrappers (here bound in), the first six of which were reissued with an etched colored title page in 1834. Each plate is filled with wonderful tiny sketches of all sorts of human behavior.

I collect English, French and American caricaturists who worked from 1815–1945, focusing on the quality of drawing, the charm of the page design, and the wit in describing human nature. George Cruikshank is one of my favorites. Albums of contemporary caricatures are an important component of my collection, since they offer useful evidence of the publisher's (in this case the illustrator's) methods of distribution, and often contain unexpected treasures. For example, this album contains an interesting notice from George complaining about “various works published by Mr. Kidd, as ‘Illustrated by Cruikshank,’ ... ALL illustrated by my Brother, ROBERT CRUIKSHANK, and IN NOT ONE OF THEM HAVE I ANY CONCERN.”

Chris Loker

A Curious Heiroglyphick Bible; Or, Select Passages in the Old and New Testament, Represented with Emblematic Figures for the Amusement of Youth.

A Curious Heiroglyphick Bible; Or, Select Passages in the Old and New Testament, Represented with Emblematic Figures for the Amusement of Youth. London: J. Barker [etc.], 1812.

The Hieroglyphick Bible is one of my favorite children’s books. It dates from 1783, with woodcuts attributed to engraver Thomas Bewick. Hieroglyphic bibles evolved from emblem books, where images or hieroglyphs served as symbols for intellectual ideas. Adapted over time, the use of hieroglyphics to communicate text shifted to a simpler approach that today we call rebus, which uses pictures to replace some words in each sentence. This bible, meant for young learners, is particular in that its binding of stiff vellum, with hand-painted covers and endpapers, was produced by the Royal School of Art Needlework (founded in 1875), still flourishing today as the Royal School of Needlework. Involved with the RSN were Arts and Crafts luminaries William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones and Walter Crane.

James J. Periconi

“At the Cottage of Messer Violi,” in <em>The Hazards of Imagery</em>.

Paul Violi (1944–2011). “At the Cottage of Messer Violi,” in The Hazards of Imagery. [England:] Dale Devereux Barker, 1998. Silkscreen print on Stockwell cartridge paper, 20 x 14⅞ in. No. 5/12 portfolios.

This print is included in a portfolio made up of thirty-six prints—seventeen with poems and nineteen without text. They were created by British printmaker Dale Devereux Barker using a variety of techniques, including etching, silkscreen, linocut, wood-block and photogravure.

Paul Violi was a significant figure in the New York School of Poets, often anthologized (see, e.g., The Oxford Book of American Poetry), and a friend of mine. He taught poetry and poetry writing at the New School, Columbia University and elsewhere.

This work is a reminder to me, as one who is intensely text-driven and serious about my collecting, to not forget the powerful relation of art to language: “We whose hearts have been gripped / by life, scoff at the idea of art / as mere ornamentation …” But the playfulness in Paul’s poetry also says to me: enjoy everything art, literature and life offer, but let's not take ourselves too seriously. For this reminder I thank him often, even now.

Kenneth J. Pfaehler

Afbeelding van't Stadt Huys van Amsterdam, in dartigh coopere plaaten.

Jacob van Campen (1595–1657). Afbeelding van't Stadt Huys van Amsterdam, in dartigh coopere plaaten. Amsterdam: Frederick de Wit, 1664. [Bound with:] Prima Pars, Praecipuarum effigierum ac ornamaentorum, amplissimae Curiae Amstelrodamensis, maiori ex parte, in candido marmore effectorumm per Artum Quellinium, eiusdem civitatis statuarium, Amsterdam: Frederick de Witt, 1665, and Secunda Pars, Amsterdam: Frederick de Witt, 16th Jan. 1668.

The Amsterdam Stadt Huis, or town hall, is an enduring incarnation of the city’s, and the Dutch Republic’s, self-confidence, wealth, power and civic vitality at the height of the Golden Age. The cornerstone was laid in 1648, eight months after the Treaty of Munster ended the Eighty Years’ War with Spain, and when completed in 1655, Constantijn Huygens extolled the Stadt Huis as the “eighth wonder of the world.” Jacob van Campen's design and the sculptural program of Artus Quellinus symbolized not only Amsterdam’s glory and (in keeping with the building's function) principles of good governance, but also the perfection of the universe. The Stadt Huis indeed is proof that, as van Campen and Huygens believed, harmonious proportion is the measure of perfection in the universe, the human body, civic government and architecture. Perhaps that is why it remains my favorite building. I had the good fortune to acquire this beautiful and monumental tribute to a beautiful and monumental building early in my collecting, and it remains a cornerstone of my library.

Judith Raymo

About Sylvia. About Sylvia.

Enid Mark (1932–2008). About Sylvia. Wallingford, PA: ELM Press, 1996. Edition of 50, with lithographs by Enid Mark printed on Arches Velin paper, hand-bound by Sarah Creighton in a chemise of black Tiziano paper from the Fabriano mill, and with title calligraphy by Jerry Kelly.

About Sylvia was conceived by Enid Mark, Sylvia Plath’s classmate and friend, and founder of ELM Press. This artist’s book was published during the tenth anniversary of the press, and contains ten poems by poets who knew Plath and by those who reflect on her from the distance of time. Its meaning for me is enhanced by having known and admired both of these women at a formative stage of our lives.

Each of the poems, including those by Diane Ackerman, John Berryman, Ann Sexton, and Richard Wilbur, conveys personal recollections about Plath. The image of shattered glass in these open pages reflects the emotional depths of Robert Lowell’s poetry; his Harvard workshop in summer 1958 introduced Plath to a boldly confessional mode of creative expression.

Mark Storey

The Word Returned. The Word Returned.

Ken Campbell. The Word Returned. London: Ken Campbell, 1996. Edition of 35.

The Word Returned is Ken’s masterpiece and arguably the most important artist’s book produced in Britain since the 1930s.

Ken described the facture as “polychrome letterpress and handwork deploying a raised mounting board, lead type, wood-letter, zinc and polymer plates and zinc stencils.” The stencils were never meant to be printed this way and each letter had to be printed individually—66,000 crankings of the press!

This book was a turning point for me. I bought it in America and only then realized that I could have driven to Bristol and acquired it directly from its creator. Meeting Ken and discussing his work made me feel closer to the other visionary artist-printers that I had begun to collect, from Cobden-Sanderson to Hammer to Iliazd. All these ”outsiders” barely register in the broad histories of art and design in the twentieth century.

Peter Strauss

Saint Matorel.

Pablo Picasso; Max Jacob (poems). Saint Matorel. Paris: Henry Kahnweiler, 1911. Edition of 106. With four Cubist etchings.

Saint Matorel is one of the first books I acquired for my collection of livres d'artistes. It is considered a milestone in the history of Modern Illustrated Books, now extremely rare and, arguably, one of the most important of all livres d'artistes from the viewpoint of art alone because it contains four of the outstanding etchings done during the decisive phase in the evolution of Cubism. The poet Max Jacob was one Picasso’s close friends. Picasso and Miró were the two most prolific creators of livres d'artistes, and Saint Matorel was the second of Picasso's many books.

Illustrated & Artist's Books