JOSEPH PENNELL’S LIFE AND LETTERS, ILLUSTRATED
PENNELL, Elizabeth Robins. The Life and Letters of Joseph Pennell. Boston: Little, Brown, 1929. Two volumes. Thick octavo, original half tan polished calf gilt, top edges gilt, uncut. $400.
Limited first edition, number 244 of only 265 copies, of this “ungilded” biography of Pennell by his wife and collaborator, signed by her, and illustrated with numerous full-page reproductions and in-text line cuts.
“Pennell is considered to have done more than any other one artist of his time to improve the quality of illustration both in the United States and abroad and to raise its status as an art. He produced more than 900 etchings, some 621 lithographs, and innumerable drawings and watercolors” (Panama Canal Review). James McNeill Whistler was a major influence on Pennell, whose style and etching technique clearly reflects Whistler’s. Considered one of the great etching innovators of the time, Pennell printed many of his own works, continuously experimented with new graphic techniques and sought to draw critical attention to the art of book illustration. His subjects were chiefly landscapes and architectural views, chief among them his world-famous lithographs of the building of the Panama Canal, capturing the colossal scale of the project. “The locks were yawning gulfs,” he wrote, “their stupendous arches and buttresses not yet hidden as they would be once the water was let in.” In the Preface to her biography of her husband, Elizabeth Pennell characterizes him as “a man and artist whose individuality was proof against modern standardization… and who was associated with the most important art exhibitions and movements of his day.” Freitag 9461. Bookplate.
A fine copy, with only minor spotting to original calf.