“ONE OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL WORKS IN WESTERN LITERATURE”: OVID’S METAMORPHOSIS, IMPORTANT SANDYS TRANSLATION, ILLUSTRATED BY FRANCIS CLEYN, A LANDMARK IN ENGLISH BOOK ILLUSTRATION
(SANDYS, George) (CLEYN, Francis) OVID. Ovid's Metamorphosis Englished, Mythologiz'd, And Represented in Figures. An Essay to the Translation of Virgil's Aeneis. Oxford: John Lichfield, 1632. Folio, late 18th century marbled boards rebacked in elaborate calf-gilt, raised bands, raised bands, red morocco spine label. $8000.
Second folio and the first revised and illustrated edition of George Sandys’ famous verse translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, with engraved title page, frontispiece portrait and 15 full-page copperplates by Francis Cleyn, very handsomely bound.
"In the Metamorphoses Ovid attempts no less a task than the linking together into one artistically harmonious whole all the stories of classical mythology. And this he does, until the whole range of wonders is passed in review, from the dawn of creation, when chaos was changed by divine fiat into the orderly universe, down to the age of the poet himself… Every important myth is at least touched upon… The poem thus forms a manual of classical mythology, and is the most important source of mythical lore for all writers since Ovid's time" (Miller, Ovid III:xi-xii, Loeb Classical Library). "It is at once a comprehensive account of Latin mythology and a feat of fictional construction which taught innumerable later writers, among them Chaucer and Dante" (Clute & Grant, 739). Shakespeare, Marlowe, Drayton, Spenser, and Chapman were all deeply indebted to Ovid's "collection of legends of transformations" (Peck, 1151). Sandys' translation was "pronounced by Dryden to be the best of the last age" (Lowndes, 1745). Each book of Ovid is accompanied by a full-page illustration by Francis Cleyn, engraved by Salomon Savery, and these are regarded as "the first important series of the 17th century in England" (Hodnett). The first five books of his translation of the Metamorphoses appeared in 1621, and his complete translation was first published, in a folio edition, in London in 1626; Charles I granted him exclusive rights to Ovid for the next 21 years. This second, revised folio edition—the first illustrated edition—includes not only the 15 books of the Metamorphoses, but also Sandys' translation of the first book of Virgil's Aeneid, the remainder of which he did not translate. STC 18966. See Brueggemann, 619. See Moss II:357. Engraved title page with early owner signature inked over. With an older (20th-century) description describing this book as "from the library of Sir Thomas Phillipps," 1st Baronet, renowned English antiquary and book collector who amassed the largest collection of manuscript material in the 19th century—quite possibly the largest such collection a single individual has ever compiled.
Faint dampstain affecting first few signatures only, a few pages expertly cleaned, a few early or expert paper repairs. Plate preceding Book III skillfully remargined. Very handsomely bound.