1894. Boston: Houghton Mifflin at the Riverside Press, 1894.
8vo.,  photo-lithographed plates (including frontis, title and dedication plates), followed by 61 pp. of text. all on folded pages. Elaborately gilt-stamped brown cloth, gilt title to backstrip, floral endpapers also by Vedder, top-edge gilt. Binding slightly rubbed at edges, minor fraying at corners, internally bright; very good. Gift inscription in ink on recto of frontis, “To Father from George, Annie and Florence. Christmas 1902.” Sweet poem written in contemporary manuscript hand by John W. Chadwick slipped in.
§ This edition first published in 1884. The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám is said to be one of the ten best known poems in the world, and probably the most popular piece of Middle Eastern literature in the Western World. There are hundreds of editions published from Fitzgerald’s various translations alone. American symbolist artist Elihu Vedder (1836-1923) is best known for his illustrations of the Rubáiyát. Vedder met a number of Pre-Raphaelite painters while visiting London in 1876, and attended an exhibition of William Blake’s work at the Burlington Club. Blake’s influence can be seen in Vedder’s idealized human forms. He is also known for his mural work in Collis P. Huntington’s mansion, the Walker Art Gallery at Bowdoin College, and the Library of Congress. Vedder’s illustrations for the Rubáiyát were some of the earliest examples of Art Nouveau in America. This first Houghton Mifflin edition was so popular it sold out in just six days. (See Stillman, and ANB). Item #108105