“A MORE BEAUTIFULLY EMBELLISHED VOLUME NEVER WAS OFFERED”
LOCKHART, John Gibson. Spanish Ballads; Historical and Romantic. London: John Murray, 1841. Quarto, late 19th-century three-quarter red calf, elaborately gilt-decorated spine, raised bands, green morocco spine label, marbled boards and endpapers, all edges gilt. $985.
First illustrated edition, profusely illustrated with 77 wood engravings after various British artists, and with chromolithographic section titles, borders, and ornamental letters by Owen Jones, handsomely bound.
Earlier attempts to arrange these ballads in chronological order had failed until someone with Lockhart’s understanding of ancient Spanish could date the different versions. Contemporary reviewers praised Lockhart’s skill: “what was tame he inspired; what was lofty gained additional grandeur; and even the tender… grew still more pathetic beneath his touch” (Moir’s Sketches, 1851, 294). When this edition appeared, it drew this enthusiastic comment: “A more appropriately as well as beautifully embellished volume never was offered to the world” (Allibone 1119). Much of its beauty is owed to Owen Jones, architect and designer, who was influential in opening up new possibilities for chromolithography. Ancient Spanish Ballads was first published in 1823 without illustrations. Lowndes, 1381.
A few plates with very shallow dampstaining to marginal edges, a few scratches to boards, only slight rubbing to corners. A handsome copy in near-fine condition.