"ONE OF THE MOST MAGNIFICENT BOOKS THAT WE HAVE EVER SEEN": A MAJESTIC VOLUME OF 84 STIPPLE-ENGRAVED, COLORED HOLBEIN PORTRAITS OF THE COURT OF HENRY VIII
(HOLBEIN, Hans) LODGE, Edmund. Portraits of Illustrious Personages of the Court of Henry VIII. Engraved in Imitation of the Original Drawings of Hans Holbein. London: William Bulmer for John Chamberlaine, 1812. Tall quarto (11 by 13-1/2 inches), contemporary three-quarter red morocco, raised bands, elaborately gilt-decorated spine, marbled boards and endpapers, all edges gilt. $4500.
First quarto edition of this magnificent volume of 84 color stipple-engraved plates—rarely found complete—an impressive collection of full-page engravings after Holbein's legendary portraits of Jane Seymour, Anne Boleyn, Sir Thomas More, a young Edward VI, Anne of Cleves and other court figures, inked in colors, with large color frontispiece portraits of Holbein and his wife. Biographical text by Edmund Lodge follows each portrait. A beautiful volume.
"One of the most magnificent books that we have ever seen, and, whether we consider the genius of the painter or the talents of the engravers, reflects high honor on the age and nation which produced it" (London Monthly Review). Portraits was praised by Sir Walter Scott as "a collection which at once satisfies the imagination and the understanding, showing us… how the most distinguished of our ancestors looked, moved and dressed, and… how they thought, acted, lived, and died" (Allibone, 1120). Subjects include Prince Edward, Sir Thomas More, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Anne of Cleve, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Catherine Howard and "Mother Jak."
The fine stipple-engravings are made from original drawings by Hans Holbein. As Court Painter to Henry VIII, Holbein designed the king's state robes, household furniture, costumes and jewelry for pageantries and decorations for halls, weapons and goblets, buttons, bridles and bookbindings. His main task, however, was to paint portraits of the royal household. The majestic portraiture of Holbein, who died in London in 1543, "remains unsurpassed for sureness and economy of statement, penetration into character, and a combined richness and purity of style" (Waterhouse). Color-inked on the plates, these intricate stipple-engraved portraits comprise "inestimable examples of English color printing at its best" (Joan Friedman). First published in large folio format, issued in parts from 1792-1800, with engravings by Bartolozzi, under the title Imitations of Original Drawings by Hans Holbein. Though called a quarto edition, and reduced from the earlier elephant folio edition, this is essentially a folio-sized volume, and the 84 beautiful portraits were achieved with techniques that admirably succeed in honoring Holbein's portraiture. The plates were etched or engraved in gray or sepia ink, with additional colored inks applied a la poupee, the two large frontispieces hand-colored. Numbers 3-14 consist of portraits of unknown personages, and therefore no biographical matter on the subjects could be included. See Abbey, Life 205 (1792 folio edition). Lowndes, 405. Armorial bookplate of Henry Arthur John Silley.
Plates and text with lightest scattered foxing, binding bright and fresh. A splendid copy, one of the nicest we've seen.