ONE OF ONLY SEVEN SETS WITH THE 250 ILLUSTRATIONS IN QUADRUPLE SUITE, ONE SUITE HAND-COLORED: WONDERFULLY BOUND 16-VOLUME SET OF STRICKLAND'S LIVES OF THE QUEENS OF ENGLAND, WITH HAND-PAINTED PORTRAITS INSET INTO THE FRONT COVER OF EACH VOLUME
STRICKLAND, Agnes. Lives of the Queens of England, From the Norman Conquest. Philadelphia: George Barrie & Sons, (1902-03). Sixteen volumes. Octavo, publisher's deluxe full navy morocco gilt, raised bands, full purple and green morocco doublures with hand-painted portraits inset into front doublures, white morocco floral inlays set into rear doublures, watered silk endpapers, all edges gilt; each volume housed in cloth slipcase. $22,000.
Beautifully bound and richly illustrated "Alexandra Edition" of Strickland's detailed history, number 6 of only 7 sets copies printed on Japan vellum, with each of the approximately 250 illustrations printed in quadruple suite: one on Holland handmade paper and hand-colored, on on India paper, one on papier de Chine, and one on Japanese vellum, including portraits, scenes and views. Each volume bound in full morocco, with a hand-painted portrait of one of the queens set into the full morocco doublure inside the front cover.
Strickland had already published poems and some minor works before she conceived the plan of writing the biographies of the queens of England (1840-48). "Miss Strickland's fame as an author and historian rests on the Lives of the Queens of England, which was the joint work of herself and her sister Elizabeth… In her extracts from contemporary authorities she amassed much valuable material, and her works contain pictures of the court, of society and of domestic life not to be found elsewhere" (DNB). "The biographies of Royal females," Strickland writes, "afford not only instances of lofty and heroic characteristics elicited by striking reverses of fortune, but the most touching examples of all that is lovely, holy, and endearing in womanhood."
"During her lifetime Agnes Strickland enjoyed considerable celebrity as the historian of the queens and cultivated a circle of aristocratic and literary friends… The Lives of the Queens of England… were among the most popular of all Victorian historical publications, and remain important landmarks in the development of the biographical genre… Most major public libraries continue to carry an edition of the Lives, and the later 20th century saw a revival of academic interest in the elder Strickland sisters as female historians and historians of women. They were undoubtedly key figures in the development of writing on women's history" (ODNB).
"French illustration of the Belle Epoque had an international vogue… the most spectacular example of this French influence was the firm of George Barrie and Son of Philadelphia… Robert Barrie scoured Paris in the 1890's to find illustrations for the thousands of plates which his firm employed in its editions" (Ray, The Art of the French Illustrated Book, 377). The illustrations in each volume are presented in four suites: one on Holland handmade paper and finely finished by hand in watercolors, one on India proof paper and tipped in, one on papier de Chine, and one on Japanese vellum. First published 1840-48. A duplicate set of the plates printed on satin (presumably in a separate case) is mentioned on the limitation page, but not present. This set was printed for subscriber Agnes Carey, as stated on the limitation page.
Interiors clean and fine. A few volumes with minor color restoration, spines without red morocco floral onlays, expert reinforcement to some joints and to two text blocks, as well as to some slipcases. An exceptionally good example of this splendidly illustrated and bound set. Quite scarce.