WILLY POGÁNY'S ILLUSTRATED RUBAIYAT, WITH 16 BEAUTIFUL COLOR PLATES, EXQUISITELY BOUND IN FULL ART NOUVEAU PICTORIAL ONLAID MOROCCO GILT DEPICTING EVE IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN
(POGÁNY, Willy) KHAYYÁM, Omar. Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. London: George G. Harrap, circa 1917. Octavo, contemporary full burgundy morocco, elaborately gilt-decorated spine and covers, pictorial morocco onlays, raised bands, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. Housed in a custom cloth slipcase. $5700.
Ballantyne Press edition of Pogány's illustrated Rubaiyat, with 16 splendid mounted color plates, sumptuously bound in elaborately bordered full Art Nouveau-style inlaid morocco gilt depicting Eve in the Garden of Eden on one side and a snake winding around a chalice on the other.
Omar Khayyám's "brief verses vary in theme… from sophisticated satires on the unreasonableness of human passion to the passionate lyrics on the joys and sorrows of love and wine and on the wisdom of grasping pleasure while we can" (Hornstein, Percy & Brown 377). Hungarian-born Willy Pogány "specialized in gift book embellishment both before and after the First World War" (Harthan, 242). He first illustrated this 12th-century Persian poem in 1909. Fitzgerald's translations (the first published in 1859, the fourth in 1879) "adapted the quatrains into a connected theme, skeptical of divine providence, mocking the transience of human grandeur, and concentrating on the pleasures of the fleeting moment," producing in the process some of "the most frequently quoted lines in English poetry" (Drabble, 716). The Ballantyne Press was founded in 1799 by Sir Walter Scott's schoolmate and long-time friend James Ballantyne. Ballantyne developed such a wide reputation for fine printing as to be commissioned by both the Vale Press and Ergany Press to print their books. Printed with calligraphic initial letters, tailpieces and decorative borders in green ink. Greer 21e. Bookplate.
A beautiful copy in fine condition.