Description

    With a Proof Impression of One of the Wood Engravings, with Penciled Instructions to the Engraver by Samuel Palmer

    Charles Dickens. Pictures from Italy. The Vignette Illustrations on Wood by Samuel Palmer. London: Published for the Author, by Bradbury & Evans, 1846.

    First edition. Small octavo (6.75 x 4.25 inches; 171 x 108 mm.). [6], 269, [1] pages. Bound without the preliminary leaf (A1) containing ads for Oliver Twist and Dombey and Son and the final leaf (S8) containing ads for "Mr. Dickens's Works." Four wood-engraved vignette illustrations by Samuel Palmer (title-page, p. [1], p. [5], and p. [270]).

    This copy has all of the internal flaws listed by Smith. In addition, the comma is lacking after "Wood" in the fourth line of text on the title-page.

    Bound by Rivière & Son (stamp-signed in gilt on the front turn-in) in full red crushed levant morocco. Covers with gilt triple fillet border, spine elaborately tooled and lettered in gilt in compartments with five gilt-ruled raised bands, board edges ruled in gilt, gilt inner dentelles, marbled endpapers, top edge gilt, others uncut. Original variant binding blue fine vertically-ribbed cloth covers and spine bound in at end. Paper very slightly browned at the edges, occasional minor soiling. Short tear to outer blank margin of S7 (pp. 269/[270]), with a tiny piece missing. Otherwise a fine copy.

    With a pencilled note on the verso of the front free endpaper: "With proof of Woodcut after Samuel Palmer. With his autograph instructions to the engraver." An additional pencilled note at the head of the half-title: "With proof impression of the engraving on page 1, by Samuel Palmer, having his Autograph instructions to the engraver."

    Bound in at the front (between the contents leaf and p. [1]) is a proof impression (measuring approximately 6.1875 x 4.1875 inches; 157 x 106 mm.) of the woodcut vignette of "The Villa d'Este at Tivoli, from the Cypress Avenue" on p. [1], mounted on a folded leaf. Small triangular piece missing from the left margin, just touching the left edge of the image, and a tiny hole in the lower blank corner, not affecting image. The proof has pencilled notes by the artist in the margin, with arrows drawn to the corresponding areas of the woodcut: "Opposite are a few touches / on the slender cypress / two very thin lines of light / on the stem / speck of light in the /foliage-" (at right); "There is a / thick black line / on the block thus / which I have / here crossed with / specks of white- / although it is in / the body of the tree / it kills the fine / work on the Villa" (at left); "The thickness of outline / on the light side of this / vase unfinishes the / foreground-I have / here altered it" (below left); and "The thick outline of this / leaf unfinished everything / about it" (below right).

    "The illustrator originally chosen for Pictures from Italy was Clarkson Stanfield, but he resigned his commission to supply twelve plates because the book seemed to him to have an anti-Catholic bias...Samuel Palmer was appointed in Stanfield's place, but was able to complete only four woodblocks, showing the Villa d'Este, the Colosseum, the Street of the Tombs at Pompeii, and a group of peasants harvesting in a vineyard" (Oxford Reader's Companion to Dickens, p. 450).

    "Dickens hired Samuel Palmer to design vignette wood engravings of Italian subjects for the republication of Dickens's travel letters from Italy. After much labour Palmer supplied four designs; he also chivvied the engravers to reproduce his delicate lines delicately. Pictures from Italy was not well received, and neither were the pictures-'paltry', one reviewer complained" (Oxford Reader's Companion to Dickens, p. 292).

    Eight numbered sketches in this book originally appeared in The Daily News from 21 January through 11 March 1846 under the title: "Travelling Letters. Written on the Road." Dickens modified these sketches and added others from letters to his friend John Forster for book publication. Pictures from Italy was published in book form on May 18, 1846. 6s. From the H. Barry Morris Collection.

    Eckel, pp. 126-127. Gimbel A98. Smith II, 7.


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