Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - April - 2017 Issue

William Blake – Always in Paradise, from John Windle Antiquarian Bookseller

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William Blake Always in Paradise.

John Windle Antiquarian Bookseller has published an outstanding and extensive catalogue of William Blake Always in Paradise. A Catalogue of Artwork and Books by and about Blake and his Circle. The "Always in Paradise" reflects one of his early books, Gates of Paradise, but even more so a quote from Catherine Blake which begins this catalogue: "I have very little of Mr. Blake's company; he is always in Paradise."

 

William Blake was a late 18th century, early 19th century poet, engraver, and artist. He was talented at the first two, but it is his original artwork that stands out most of all. I wouldn't have any idea how to describe it, but his art is captivating. Sadly, Blake was not particularly appreciated during his lifetime, but his a reputation has grown steadily since he died almost two centuries ago.

 

John Windle will offer you books in a variety of fields, but his greatest specialty is William Blake. Last year, Windle opened a William Blake gallery adjacent to his shop in San Francisco. It is likely the first gallery devoted to Blake in two hundred years, when Blake was around to oversee it himself. This catalogue contains hundreds of items related to Blake. It includes Blake artwork, books, illustrations and engravings, then moves on to later facsimile editions of his works, art reproductions, catalogues, bibliographies, biographies, Blake's Circle, works inspired by Blake, books about Blake, and the Trianon Press and William Blake Trust. Naturally, most items from Blake's lifetime are not inexpensive, though, as Windle notes, "modestly priced compared to other artists of his stature." However, there is much in here, and later editions and reproductions are available "at prices that a college student might afford." This is essential as the next generation of collectors will need to whet their appetite on a college student's budget if they are to have an appetite at all. Here are a few selections from this extensive Blake collection.

 

In 1799, Blake was commissioned to create 50 tempera paintings based on the Bible. Tempera used watercolors with glue to create a dense, oil-like paint but with a different effect. Thirty of those have survived, only seven still in private hands. This is the best preserved example of those seven, The Virgin Hushing Young John the Baptist. In the picture, young John, a butterfly in his hand, appears eager to show his prize, while Mary hushes him from waking the sleeping infant Jesus. This painting is priceless, figuratively and literally (no price is given). I think it qualifies for "if you have to ask..."

 

The Gates of Paradise was Blake's first attempt to use images to convey a message. First published in 1793 as For Children, it was later described as For the Sexes. The work is very rare. Windle notes that the first state is known in only one copy, the second in four, the third in one, the fourth in two, and the fifth in eleven. At least five of those 11 are believed to have been printed posthumously, likely by his widow. These plates come from one of those 11 copies of the fifth state printed during his lifetime, circa 1825. They came from an incomplete copy. The Gates of Paradise traces the stages of life of man. It goes from birth through death, including passage through the four elements – water, air, fire, and earth. Offered are six plates, Water, Earth, Air, Hatching ripe, Aged ignorance, and Does thy God. Priced at $40,000 each.

 

Robert Blair is a not well-known Scottish poet who died 11 years before Blake was born. However, Blake was asked to illustrate a new edition of what is essentially Blair's only poem in 1808. The result is that Blair's The Grave is well-known today, though primarily for Blake's illustrations. The Grave was in the headlines in 2016 when Blake's original artwork was discovered, and to the consternation of many, the drawings were divided up and sold separately. Eleven were sold for a total of $7.1 million, the highest priced plate going for $1,584,000. Fortunately, you can own these dreamlike pictures for a far more affordable sum. Windle offers the folio edition of the book for $8,950, the quarto for $5,750. Alternatively, 14 individual plates from the first quarto edition are offered at prices ranging from $275-$875. One is the frontispiece portrait of Blake.

 

Blake was called on to create and engrave illustrations for the 1791 second edition of Mary Wollstonecraft's Original Stories from Real Life. Wollstonecraft is remembered today as an early feminist (along with being the mother of Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein). The book was a collection of morally instructive tales for girls, but the overriding moral of many of Wollstonecraft's very feminist (for its day) books was that women should be educated, that they would be better citizens and wives if allowed to use their brains. Offered is not the book itself, but the six Blake plates. They depict the two girls, their teacher, and sometimes others, at the center of Wollstonecraft's stories in various situations. $3,000.

 

While Blake was fairly obscure in his lifetime and during the 19th century, his works experienced a great revival in the 20th. What was much ignored in earlier times was discovered and finally given the recognition it deserved in the century after Blake died. No one better recognized Blake's genius than Sir Geoffrey Keynes, surgeon, author, and brother of noted economist John Maynard Keynes. Geoffrey Keynes formed the William Blake Trust, and after seeing some facsimiles of Cezanne paintings produced by Arnold Fawcus, partnered with Fawcus to create the Trianon Press. Trianon would go on to produce many spectacular facsimiles of Blake's works, making them accessible to the public. Among those who became involved in the project were noted collectors Lessing Rosenwald, Paul Mellon, and many others. Offered is a collection of the minutes of the William Blake Trust, from its founding in 1948 through 1969. Most of the collection came from Fawcus' wife, Julie. Reports are signed by Keynes with numerous annotations by Fawcus. Papers include financial and legal arrangements for the trust's founding and accounts of its first 20 years of operation. The quality of Trianon's work is such that its facsimiles are barely distinguishable from Blake's original art. $6,500.

 

Now for the some Blake illustrations suitable for the college student's budget, and a great starting point for a potential collector. This is a portfolio of 22 facsimile plates of Blake's illustrations for the Book of Job. They come in a purple paper cover and were produced by the Trianon Press. They were sold only at museums and Blake Trust exhibitions. $100.

 

John Windle Antiquarian Bookseller may be reached at 415-986-5826 or john@johnwindle.com. Their website is www.johnwindle.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> BEETHOVEN, LUDWIG VAN. Autograph Manuscript sketch-leaf part of the score of the Scottish Songs, "Sunset" Op. 108 no 2. [Vienna, February 1818]. Inscribed by Alexander Wheelock Thayer. SOLD for $131,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. SOLD for $516,500
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed ("Papa") to his son Hans Albert, discussing his involvement with the atomic bomb, September 2, 1945. SOLD for $106,250
    <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> HAMILTON, ALEXANDER. Autograph Letter Signed, to Baron von Steuben, with extensive notes of Von Steuben's aide Benjamin Walker, June 12, 1780. SOLD for $16,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. SOLD for $275,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. SOLD for $118,750
  • <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> E.H. SHEPARD, Original drawing for A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner.<br>$40,000-60,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> BERNARD RATZER, Plan of the City of New York in North America, surveyed in the years 1766 & 1767. $80,000-100,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> THOMAS JEFFERSON, Autograph letter signed comparing Logan, Tecumseh, and Little Turtle to the Spartans. Monticello: 15 February 1821. $14,000-18,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN C. FREMONT, Narrative of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, in the Year 1842.. Abridged edition, the only one containing the folding map From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $3,000-5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ZANE GREY, Album containing 94 large format photographs of Grey and party at Catalina Island, Arizona, and fishing in the Pacific. From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $5,000-$8,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> WILLIAM COMBE, A History of Madeira ... illustrative of the Costumes, Manners, and Occupations of the Inhabitants. produced by Ackermann in 1821; From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ERIC TAVERNER, Salmon Fishing... One of 275 copies signed by Taverner, published in 1931,From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN WHITEHEAD, Exploration of Mount Kina Balu, North Borneo. Whitehead reached the high point of Kinabalu in 1888. Part of a major group of travel books from the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN LONG, Voyages and Travels of an Indian Interpreter and Trader, describing the Manners and Customs of the North American Indians... The first edition of 1791. $3,000-$5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> SAMUEL BECKETT, Stirrings Still. This, Beckett’s last work of fiction with original lithographs by Le Brocquy, limited to 200 copies signed by the author and the artist. From the Estate of Howard Kaminsky.. $1,500-$2,500
  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, wallpaper sample book, circa 1919. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Archive from a late office of the Breuer & Smith architectural team, New York, 1960-70s. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> William Morris, <i>The Story of the Glittering Plain or the Land of Living Men,</i> illustrated by Walter Crane, Kelmscott Press, Hammersmith, 1894. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustave Doré, <i>La Sainte Bible selon la Vulgate,</i> Tours, 1866. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustav Klimt & Max Eisler, <i>Eine Nachlese,</i> complete set, Vienna, 1931. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>Eric Allatini & Gerda Wegener, <i>Sur Talons Rouges,</i> with original watercolor by Wegener, Paris, 1929. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>C.P. Cavafy, <i>Fourteen Poems,</i> illustrated & signed by David Hockney, London, 1966. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jean Midolle, <i>Spécimen des Écritures Modernes...</i>, Strasbourg, 1834-35. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>E.A. Seguy, <i>Floréal: Dessins & Coloris Nouveaux,</i> Paris, 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.

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