RACKHAM’S MIDSUMMER-NIGHT’S DREAM: “THE STANDARD BY WHICH SUBSEQUENT ILLUSTRATIONS OF SHAKESPEARE’S PLAY HAVE BEEN JUDGED”
(RACKHAM, Arthur) SHAKESPEARE, William. A Midsummer-Night's Dream. London and New York: William Heinemann and Doubleday, Page, 1908. Large quarto, original full vellum gilt, top edge gilt, uncut. $4800.
Signed limited first edition, number 839 of 1000 copies signed by Arthur Rackham, one of his most desirable and most profusely illustrated works, with 40 full-page mounted color plates and numerous pen-and-ink line cuts.
"Arthur Rackham's fanciful imagination gave his illustrations instant recognition, and his dedication to illustration kept him in the public eye for 30 years" (Hodnett, 233). His designs for this edition of A Midsummer Night's Dream "became the standard by which subsequent illustrations of Shakespeare's play have been judged" (Ray, The Illustrator and the Book in England, 204). The play held a lifelong fascination for the artist, who declared years later, "I should like to [illustrate] it any number of times" (Hamilton, 167). Without original fragile silk ties. Riall, 87. Latimore & Haskell, 32. Dalby, 77.
Plates lovely and fine, interior generally quite nice, faintest foxing to vellum, gilt bright. A lovely copy in near-fine conditions.