“RACKHAM’S ACKNOWLEDGED MASTERPIECE”: DELUXE SUITE OF 12 FOLIO PLATES FROM PETER PAN, THE ONLY WORK BY RACKHAM WITH THE PLATES ISSUED SEPARATELY AS A PORTFOLIO
(RACKHAM, Arthur). The Peter Pan Portfolio by Arthur Rackham, from Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens by J. M. Barrie. London: Hodder & Stoughton, . Elephant folio (measuring 19-1/2 by 21-1/2 inches), original three-quarter vellum laced at spine with later silk ribbon, green cloth boards, publisher’s cardboard box. $18,000.
First edition, one of only 500 copies signed by the publisher and the engraver. The only suite of Rackham’s plates to be issued in an oversize portfolio format, with 12 beautiful folio color prints from Rackham’s Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens mounted on card and matted.
Published in 1912 to capitalize on the popularity of the stage production Peter and Wendy, this portfolio contains 12 pictures considered to be Rackham’s personal favorites from the 50 original plates he designed for Barrie’s text. Of Rackham’s designs Barrie wrote, “I like best of all the Serpentine with the fairies, and the Peter in his night-gown sitting in the tree. Next I would [sic] the flying Peters, the fairies going to the ball (as in the ‘tiff’ and the fairy on cobweb)— the fairies sewing the leaves with their sense of fun (the gayest thing this) and your treatment of snow” (Ray). Perhaps Barrie’s comments influenced Rackham’s selection, as this portfolio includes all the images he mentioned. This edition was limited to 500 copies signed by the publishers, engravers and printers, numbered 101-600 (this copy is number 448); copies 1-100 were supposed to be signed on every plate by Rackham, but “Mr. Rackham advises that he signed only about twenty” (Latimore and Haskell, 39). The portfolio brought Rackham’s work great public attention, “and ultimately spawned one fine new piece of music,” Debussy’s “Les Fées Sont d’Exquises Danceuses” (Hamilton, 97). With descriptive tissue guards. Originally issued as a gift book in 1906 with 50 color plates but in a much smaller quarto format. Riall, 113. Ray, The Illustrator and the Book in England 329.
Plates generally bright and fresh, with occasional light foxing. Interior with expert restoration to title page edges, leaves occasionally remargined at gutter, some mats expertly restored. Vellum with light wear to spine foot, minor bumping to extremities. Expert restoration to scarce original cardboard box. An extremely good copy.