Illuminated Ornaments selected from the Manuscripts and early printed books from the sixth to the seventeenth centuries.

Illuminated Ornaments selected from the Manuscripts and early printed books from the sixth to the seventeenth centuries.
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London: William Pickering (printed by Charles Whittingham), 1833. Imperial 4to on largest paper (38 x 27.5 cms.), lithographed titlepage heightened with hand coloring, printed titlepage, 18 pp. of text; 40 leaves of descriptions between 59 magnificent etched or lithographed plates heightened with printed and hand-coloring, 4 of the early plates with a highly burnished background of gold leaf; and many other plates illuminated with liquid gold, 1 addendum leaf. A very fresh copy, in its most desirable format, of a truly rare book in any of its three formats (uncolored, colored, hand-colored and illuminated with gold). Contemporary full brown polished calf beautifully rebacked, covers panelled in gilt, gilt edges, armorial bookplate of Nevile Rodwell Wilkinson. A superb copy with Robin de Beaumont’s original description and price retained at the front. First edition, largest paper format, of Shaw’s first book with color plates (his third book overall); regular copies measure 28 x 21 cms (approximately) and have less finished coloring and the gold areas are printed in yellow. The work was issued in 12 monthly parts each containing 5 plates; it began in June 1830 and was issued at 3s 6d plain, 7s 6d colored, “and a very limited number will be printed in Imperial Quarto, and the ornaments more highly finished in opaque colors heightened with gold, at 15s each part.” (prospectus).“In the large-paper copies, one can only say that the results are hardly less beautiful than the mediaeval originals; they are hand-illuminated with the utmost skill, and the gold used is gold leaf… this does make a considerable difference.” (McLean). Ing quotes Hardie p.259: “With their careful selection of pigments and their faithful colouring, Shaw’s reproductions attain almost to the brilliancy of an original manuscript.” In all, an extraordinary book, described by A.N.L. Munby as “the most sensible and coherent essay about miniature painting at the time” and endorsing its continuing usefulness. In the same vein, Beckwith comments: “the first of many British 19th-century studies of illuminated manuscripts… such books opened the public’s eyes to the aesthetic and historical value of manuscript arts… the format was a model for 19th-century studies of the history and methods of illumination… a landmark in the diffusion of information about manuscript arts and their history and made a significant contribution to Victorian bibliomania.” This may in fact be the very first book on illumination and its history to have color plates, and can certainly be said to have had a profound influence on early Victorian taste in and appreciation of illuminated manuscripts. Abbey, Life, 234. Keynes p. 89. McLean, Victorian Book Design, p.65-66. Warren p. 155. Ing, Charles Whittingham Printer, 9: “Magnificent large paper copy with gold leaf.” Friedman, Color Printing in England, 39 and illus. Beckwith, Victorian Bibliomania, 14. This copy purchased from Robin de Beaumont in 2003 and sold; repurchased in 2017. Nevile Rodwell Wilkinson was the Ulster King of Arms, the Principal Herald of all Ireland, and the Registrar of the Most Illustrious Order of Saint Patrick. His biography is extraordinary both as a very distinguished soldier and as an artist who created “ Titania's Palace. This chef-d'œuvre en miniature, completed over some eighteen years, was unique in being neither a luxurious dolls' house nor a model of an existing or possible future structure. It covered a space of 63 square feet, and was finished in every conceivable detail. Wilkinson developed, with the aid of an etchers' glass, a technique for decoration he called ‘mosaic painting’: minute dots of watercolour, irregular in shape like mosaic tesserae, about 1000 to the square inch. The palace was opened in 1923 by Queen Mary and was much admired by the public. It was exhibited not only in the United Kingdom but also in the Netherlands, Canada, the United States, Argentina, Australia, and New Zealand, raising thousands of pounds for children's charities: the raison d'être of the entire exercise.” (DNB) (Item Id: 109254)

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