MUIRHEAD BONE’S 120 LARGE FOLIO ILLUSTRATIONS OF OLD SPAIN, SIGNED BY BONE AND HIS WIFE
BONE, Muirhead. Old Spain. Two volumes. WITH: Two Drypoints. London: Macmillan, 1936. Together, three volumes. Elephant folio (14-1/2 by 21 inches), original full brown pigskin gilt, raised bands, top edges gilt, uncut; etchings in original matching portfolio with brown paper boards.
Signed limited first edition of this monumental collection of Spanish landscapes, cityscapes and interiors, number 24 of only 265 sets, with 120 large full-page illustrations in various media (three double-page, many in color) by Muirhead Bone and descriptions by Gertrude Bone, signed by both, with the additional portfolio of two original drypoint etchings, each signed by Muirhead Bone. With a presentation inscription from artist W. Russell Flint and two related signed autograph letters, one from Muirhead to Flint and one from Mary Bone to John Moore, the recipient of this copy.
Because Muirhead Bone was originally trained as an architect, it stands to reason that his favorite subjects were city architecture (which often focused on urban demolition and renewal), industrial plants and landscapes. His art "reflects the mind of the architect, an almost mathematical feeling for strains and stresses" (DNB). Bone's preferred media were etching, dry-point and lithography. "In the art of dry-point, Bone did not, from his first attempts, take long to achieve a mastery which it was well-nigh impossible to improve upon, certainly not as a technical process" (Kenneth M. Guichard). Appointed official British war artist during the First World War, he produced 150 lithographs of the conflict, published by the War Department as The Western Front (1917). After the armistace he returned to his earlier subject matter, adding a new fascination with shipyards and the war-damaged towns of France. For many years, Bone and his wife Gertrude took up residence in Italy and Spain. This monumental collection of his drawings and prints of Spain were "gathered during leisurely visits extending over the last years of the old régime." Bone's work is known for its meticulous detail, without ever becoming labored. With the separate portfolio of two original drypoint etchings signed by Bone: "The Apse, Leon Cathedral" and "Roman Bull Excavated at Merida," often missing. Inscribed in volume I by fellow Scottish artist W. Russell Flint, "For my dear friend John Moore with every good and affectionate wish from his companion on many happy occasions. W. Russell Flint. —- March 31, 1967." Flint, a celebrated artist and illustrator, shared with Bone a love of Spain, to which he also returned for inspiration throughout his life. Laid into this copy are two autograph letters signed. The first, from Muirhead Bone to Russell Flint, reads: "The Radcliffe Infirmary (Private Block) Oxford. Oct 2, 1953. My dear Russell Flint, There must be few letters giving one such a pleasure to answer as yours! I have been here nearly 10 weeks now and the days have often been a bit dreary. Your letter made me very bright indeed. Of course I know better but as an invalid I just ignore that and sip my sugared tea. They have now finished a block of radio-therapy treatments on me and in a fortnight am being allowed to go home—for a while anyhow. My general health may then improve they think. Speriamo! Afraid it may be some time before I remember how to sharpen a pencil though. Again my warmest thanks for your kindness and warmest best wishes to your own work. Yours ever, Muirhead Bone." Sadly, Bone's health did not improve, and he died three weeks later on October 21, 1953. A second, undated letter is from Mary Bone to the recipient of this copy. It reads "140 Haverstock Hill NW3 May 8th. Dear Mr. Moore. I am sorry not to reply to your letter before; I received it in Rome, from where I have recently returned. Your theory about squaring out the first page of a sketchbook is, I fear, with no foundation, I never saw Muirhead do that. His method, when drawing in cramped quarters, or on the spur of the moment, was to use a small sketchbook and two strong elastic bands top and bottom so that the page could be torn out, pushed up, and the drawing continued. Or the same process done horizontally [two labeled sketches]. I am glad you enjoyed the exhibition, I hope we will be able to have some more of his work on show soon. I will keep your address and let you know if I turn up anything you might like to see. Yours sincerely Mary Bone."
A few spots to portfolio boards only, plates and text beautiful and bright. Fine condition.