1803. London: Mess. Boydell & Co., London, Cheapside, .
Large 4to (12.75 x 16.75 inches),  ff., + engraved title page, frontispiece, 2 portraits and 97 plates illustrating the most-famous scenes from Shakespeare. In the de luxe binding of publisher’s straight-grain red morocco gilt, gilt-extra backstrip, gilt design on both covers. Hinges repaired, rubbing at extremities. Some foxing almost exclusively confined to the margins, a bit heavier at front and rear of volume. Bookplate of E.H. R. Noble of South Shields at the front.
§ First edition, large-paper copy. The very rare duplicate plate by Blake for Romeo and Juliet is present and exceptionally clean – it is Blake’s only plate in the collection. As the preeminent printmaker of his time, John Boydell’s publishing house employed many of the best engravers of their generation including Bartolozzi, Stothard, Schiavonetti and Blake. Although Boydell ran this large-scale printmaking and publishing house for nearly 80 years, “his most significant contribution to British art can be considered the patriotic Shakespeare Gallery project conceived in 1786. Boydell employed more than forty different engravers for the large-format and quarto versions of the gallery’s prints. A number of high-profile engravers… were employed on a handful of the plates, being paid exceptionally high rates” (DNB). Essick, CBI, XLII. Bentley, BB, p. 616. Item #122432