“PERHAPS BRITAIN’S MOST FAMOUS 20TH-CENTURY PHOTOGRAPHER”: SCARCE FRAGILE FIRST SOFTCOVER EDITION OF BILL BRANDT’S A NIGHT IN LONDON, 1938
BRANDT, Bill. A Night in London. London: Country Life, (1938). Quarto, original stiff photographic wrappers. Housed in a custom clamshell box. $6000.
First edition in wrappers of Brandt’s renowned photobook, with 64 evocative black-and-white half-tone photographic plates of 1930s London at night, celebrating “the beauty of ordinary moments.” From the collection of award-winning photojournalist Peter Turnley.
Considered “superior in both conception and execution” to his critically acclaimed first photobook, The English at Home (1936), Bill Brandt’s Night in London “contains fewer weak pictures, partly because the night brought out Brandt’s predilection for the mysterious and the fantastic-a feature even in this, his ‘documentary’ work… The fact that Brandt… was able to show something of the seamier side of London life also makes it the more involving book. The dark clearly enabled Brandt, as David Mellor put it, to let ‘imperatives of desire, dream and fantasy disclose far grander, if far darker schemes” (Parr & Badger I:138). A “marvelous chronicler of London streets… Brandt is perhaps Britain’s most famous 20th-century photographer… Photography, for Brandt, was all about capturing the details on the edge of life that we otherwise wouldn’t see. Like Henri Cartier-Bresson, he wanted to celebrate the beauty of ordinary moments” (New York Times). To Cecil Beaton, Brandt was “the Samuel Beckett of photographers. Gaunt, direct, stark, his work is always one step ahead” (Roth, 160). Introduction by James Bones; captions in English and French. First edition in wrappers, preceded same year by hardcover first edition. Owner signature.
Images bright and fine; some edge-wear and light soiling to fragile unrestored wrappers. A highly desirable, extremely good copy of a landmark photobook.