The Most Important Work Illustrated by Walter Crane, One of 1,000 Copies Printed on Handmade Paper[Walter Crane, illustrator]. [Edmund] Spenser. Spenser's Faerie Queene. A Poem in Six Books, with the Fragment Mutabilitie. Edited by Thomas J. Wise. Pictured by Walter Crane. London: Published by George Allen, 1897.
One of 1,000 copies printed on handmade paper, out of a total edition of 1,028 copies. Originally issued in nineteen parts, with wrappers also designed by Crane. Six large quarto volumes (10.6875 x 8.625 inches; 271 x 219 mm.). Woodcut double-page general title in Volume I, seven woodcut title-pages (Volume I dated 1894, Volumes II and III dated 1895, and Volumes IV-XI dated 1896), and eighty-eight full-page woodcut illustrations (frontispieces), including one double-page. With 132 woodcut head- and tail-pieces, numerous decorative initials, and printer's and publisher's colophons. Printed by the Chiswick Press.
Original ivory cloth pictorially stamped in gilt and lettered in red on front cover and lettered in gilt on spine. Top edge gilt, others uncut. With all nineteen of the original pink paper front wrappers and six of the back wrappers bound in. Some light soiling to cloth, light spotting to front covers of Volumes V and VI. Front hinge of Volume I cracked, but sound, short split to front hinge of Volume VI. Volumes I and V are each over-opened in one place. Some occasional very faint foxing and very occasional minor marginal soiling. Small paper flaw to the outer blank margin of leaf 8L4 (pp. 1507/1508) in Volume VI. The frontispiece (and its conjugate blank leaf) at p. 1217 in Volume V has come loose. A very fine set.
"The most important work in the whole long list of books illustrated by Walter Crane...If Crane's claim to greatness were based entirely on this work, he would still retain his position in the front rank of nineteenth-century artists. The wealth of ideas and forms, real and fantastic, which are embodied in the actual illustrations, and even more in the marvellous decorative border designs, is almost incredible! Besides the numberless presentments of the human figure in all its manly vigour and womanly grace, the whole range of nature's forms, of animal and plant life, of fabulous, mythological inventions, of allegorical personifications, are worked into decorative designs of exquisite beauty. It would be petty, nay foolish, to try to find fault with certain very obvious shortcomings as regards anatomical drawing in a work which does not only stand unique as pure decoration, but speaks of an amount of knowledge and a wealth of imagination that command unrestricted admiration and respect" (Konody, p. 71).
Ashley V, p. 196. Carpenter, p. 116. Engen, Crane, p. 102. Massé, pp. 47-48.
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