“SO FILL YOUR GLASSES…”: HENRY ALKEN’S HAND-COLORED COMIC ILLUSTRATIONS FOR POPULAR SONGS, 1825
ALKEN, Henry. Illustrations to Popular Songs. London: Thomas M’Lean, Repository of Wit and Humour, 1825. Oblong folio, original rose boards rebacked and recornered, original red morocco cover label. $2000.
Third edition of Alken’s witty satirical images in response to the lines of popular songs, with 42 broad hand-colored caricatures of English life and additional illustrated title page.
“Henry Alken was the premier sporting illustrator of his time. He worked in colored aquatint in a style akin to that of Rowlandson and the early George Cruikshank” (Ray, 32). First published in 1822, Alken’s Popular Songs explores the comic side of human nature in a series of prints depicting the follies and foibles of English society—“embodied by the glowing warmth of the artist’s fertile imagination.” Designed expressly for “the amateur of the fine arts, and of singing, with characteristic representations of his favorite subjects,” these wonderful prints contain multiple images corresponding to the lines of popular ditties, a number of which are hunting and sporting songs. Alken’s pictures here are mild for his reputation: “If wolves and wild boars had been present in English sport, Alken would have painted mauled and mangled hounds” (Sparrow, 202). Plates are bound in a different sequence from Tooley and are interleaved with paper guards throughout. See Tooley 37.
Occasional light soiling to margins of a few plates (not affecting images), rubbing to original boards. An extremely good copy.