"INAUGURATED THE FIRST GOLDEN AGE OF ALBUMEN-SILVER PHOTOGRAPHIC ILLUSTRATION"
(FRITH, Francis) LONGFELLOW, Henry Wadsworth. Hyperion: A Romance. Illustrated with Twenty-four Photographs of the Rhine, Switzerland, and the Tyrol, by Francis Frith. London: Alfred William Bennett, 1865. Quarto, publisher's elaborately-gilt stamped green cloth, all edges gilt. $1600.
First illustrated edition of Longfellow's Hyperion to feature 24 vintage albumen prints of photographs of castles, villages, mountain glaciers and literary sites across Germany, Switzerland and Austria by renowned Victorian photographer Francis Frith. A landmark in the intersection of photography and literature, in original gilt-tooled cloth.
One of the finest photographers of the Victorian age, Francis Frith "inaugurated the first golden age of albumen-silver photographic illustration (1860-80) during which photographs of great visual strength were supplemented by supportive texts… One of the most outspoken on the esthetics of photography, Frith was among the first photographers to successfully seize the opportunity of using the recently perfected glass-negative and albumen print process to establish a reputation as a master photographic book illustrator" (Truthful Lens, 30). By the early 1860s Frith had become renowned for his wanderlust as he traveled across Europe, Africa and the Mideast, and was equally famed for his skill as a photographer, often waiting "hours, and sometimes days, for the right weather and the right light" (Fabian and Adam, 62). Prior to publication of this splendid illustrated edition of Longfellow's Hyperion (1839), Frith photographed sites along the Rhine, and writes in his preface of tracing "the footsteps of Paul Fleming," Longfellow's hero, across Germany, Switzerland and Austria. This work is especially "notable for its direct association of landscape photographs as non-literal visual equivalents of literary ideas" (Truthful Lens). First edition: precedes the first American edition. The 24 vintage albumen prints of photographs by Frith include views of Heidelberg Castle, Interlachen, St. Gilgen, St. Wolfgang, Innsbruck, Stuttgart and more: each print approximately 4-1/2 by 6-1/2 inches and mounted on individually captioned leaves. With in-text illustrations, initials, head- and tailpieces. BAL 12479. Gernsheim, Incunabula 268. See BAL 12480; 12064. Bookseller tickets.
Plates and text fresh with light scattered foxing, tiny bit of edge-wear to bright gilt cloth. A very scarce about-fine copy.