“TORMENTS SHOWN WITH MINUTE AND SOMETIMES SHOCKING FIDELITY”: DORÉ’S MAGNIFICENT EDITION OF DANTE’S ENTIRE DIVINE COMEDY, WITH 137 PLATES, HANDSOMELY BOUND AND HAND-ILLUMINATED
(DORÉ, Gustave) DANTE. The Doré Dante: Vision of Hell; Vision of Purgatory; Vision of Paradise. London: Cassell, 1904. Six volumes. Folio (11 by 14 inches), publisher's deluxe three-quarter dark green morocco, elaborately gilt-decorated spines with red morocco onlays, raised bands, marbled boards and endpapers, top edges gilt, uncut. $7600.
Limited "Henry Irving edition" of one of Gustave Doré’s most famous illustrated works—copy number 66 of 1000 produced—with frontispiece portraits of the poet and the illustrator, and 135 full-page wood-engravings. In this copy the initial letters of alternating Cantos have been exquisitely illuminated by hand in vivid watercolors. Handsomely bound in publisher's deluxe three-quarter morocco-gilt by La Belle Sauvage bindery.
"One can hardly deny that Doré is not merely one of the most popular but also one of the greatest of all illustrators… He gladly subjugated his imagination, aiming at literal renderings of the precise descriptions of the Inferno. Thus the varied torments of the dwellers in Hell are shown with minute and sometimes shocking fidelity" (Ray, The Art of the French Illustrated Book, 327-28). In illustrating Dante's 14th-century masterpiece, Doré "was adrift on dreams of splendor, with flights of fancy that are still inspirational to the religious and the non-religious" (Malan, 95). The 137 wood-engravings have taken beautiful impressions on the coated stock of this edition (not used in most of the nearly 200 other editions). Henry Francis Cary's translation was first published in 1814; "it has remained the translation which, on Dante's name being mentioned, occurs first to the mind" (DNB). Doré's illustrated edition of Dante's Divine Comedy first published with Doré's illustrations by Hachette in 1861. Malan, 265. Bookplate.
A few minor marginal repairs to interiors; lower corner of several leaves in Volume I of Purgatory creased, two text leaves (pp. 35-38) with marginal tears, not touching text. Front joint of Volume II of Paradise skillfully repaired. A lovely, near-fine copy of this splendid six-volume set, most desirable with the hand-painted watercolor illuminations.