Description[Thomas Rowlandson, illustrator]. [William Combe]. The English Dance of Death. [Together with:] The Dance of Life. London: R. Ackermann's Repository of Arts, 1815-1817.
First editions. Three octavo volumes. 295; 299; 285 pages. 36 hand-colored aquatints in both volumes of The English Dance of Death, and 24 in the single volume of The Dance of Life; plus hand-colored titles and frontispieces. Drawings by Thomas Rowlandson, poem by William Combe.
Uniformly bound in full tan polished calf by Rivière. Covers ruled in gilt, spines elaborately tooled in gilt in compartments with five raised bands and black leather gilt lettering labels, gilt inner dentelles, all edges gilt. Minor scratching to leather. Overall, a near fine matching set. Each volume contains two bookplates, one on the front pastedown, and the other on the first free endpaper. One bookplate belongs to Edward Laurence Doheny (1856-1935), the California oil tycoon who was implicated in the Teapot Dome Scandal and who inspired a character in Upton Sinclair's novel Oil!. The other bookplate belongs to Carrie Estelle Doheny, his second wife known for her philanthropic work and for her rare book collection.
Thomas Rowlandson's English Dance of Death is his acclaimed satirical series of comic drawings featuring the inevitable appearance of Death (represented as a skeleton) in the lives of persons from all walks of life. The companion, The Dance of Life, chronicles the more upbeat side of life, with nary an appearance from the Spectre of Death.
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