"POWERFUL, ALMOST OVERWHELMING": DORÉ'S MAGNIFICENT ILLUSTRATED FOLIO EDITION OF TENNYSON'S IDYLLS OF THE KING, WITH 37 IMPRESSIVE STEEL ENGRAVINGS
(DORE, Gustave) TENNYSON, Alfred. Idylls of the King. London: Edward Moxon, 1868. Thick folio (11-1/2 by 16 inches), contemporary full green morocco gilt, elaborately gilt-decorated spine and covers, raised bands, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. $6500.
First edition of Tennyson's Arthurian classic with illustrations by Doré, boasting 37 masterful full-page steel engravings by him, beautifully bound in full morocco-gilt.
"By the early 19th century, the Arthurian legends had become a literary anachronism. Tennyson's poetry brought about a rebirth of interest in the material and eventually placed it on a new plateau of respect and significance for writers and artists" (Lacy, 446). "In 1867 and 1868, Moxon published four folio volumes, one devoted to each of [Tennyson's] original idylls"—Enid, Elaine, Vivien and Guinevere, first published together in a single volume in 1859; the first complete publication of the eventual 12 idylls together would not occur until 1891—"for which Doré created illustrations with powerful, almost overwhelming, landscapes and Gothic architecture" (Alan Lupack, "Popular Images Derived from Tennyson's Arthurian Poems," Arthuriana 21.2, page 95). "No other foreign illustrator and few native ones of the period so completely captured the English fancy [as Doré]… Tennyson and his publisher Moxon greatly favored Doré as an illustrator" (Muir, Victorian Illustrated Books, 227, 244). Each idyll with separate title page. Ray, Art of the French Illustrated Book 250. Lowndes, 2605.
Text and plates remarkably clean and fine, spine gently sunned, gilt bright. Near-fine condition, beautifully bound.