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“THE FIRST ARTIST SINCE BEARDSLEY WHO HAS PARALLELED WILDE”: SALOME, ILLUSTRATED BY JOHN VASSOS
WILDE, Oscar. Salome: A tragedy in One Act. Inventions by John Vassos. New York: E.P. Dutton, (1927). Small quarto, original black paper-covered boards, patterned endpapers, uncut. $500.
First edition thus, with 13 art deco gouache plates by illustrator John Vassos.
Vassos “worked in a very limited palette of black, white, silver, gray, and their intermediate shadings, always to startling effect. He illustrated relatively few authors during his active years-Coleridge, Gray, his wife Ruth Vassos, and his favorite, Oscar Wilde” (John Anzalone). Vassos published this version of Salome after creating a program cover for a 1926 stage production, and followed it with The Ballad of Reading Gaol in 1928 and The Harlot’s House and Other Poems in 1929. “Wilde’s despondency and eroticism were perfectly portrayed with Vassos’ restricted palette of tones and shapes” (Jim Vadeboncoeur Jr.). “Art critic C.J. Bulliet called [Vassos]… ‘the first artist since Beardsley who has paralleled Wilde” (P.K. Thomajan). The play was first published in 1894 with illustrations by Aubrey Beardsley. “The text pages of [this] edition were showered with silvery stars, an added touch that befitted this historic lady of the evening” (Thomajan). These silver stars almost always cause offsetting, as here. Issued simultaneously in a signed limited edition. Without original dust jacket.
Interior near-fine with light damp staining to margins. Light wear to extremities with a nick to lower spine of slightly faded paper-covered boards. An extremely good copy of a beautiful production.