BEAUTIFUL FOLIO FIRST EDITION OF THOMSON’S ILLUSTRATED LIFE AND WORKS OF “PHIZ”
THOMSON, David Croal. Life and Labour of Hablôt Knight Browne “Phiz.” With One Hundred and Thirty Illustrations. London: Chapman and Hall, 1884. Folio, early 20th-century three-quarter brown morocco, raised bands, elaborately gilt-decorated spine, marbled boards and endpapers, top edge gilt, uncut. Housed in custom clamshell box. $1250.
Limited first folio edition, number 135 of only 200 copies, of this critical biography of “Phiz,” the first assessment of Browne’s “achievements in Art,” with 130 lithographs, etchings, and mounted in-text illustrations, handsomely bound.
In his preface, biographer and critic Thomson promises “to endeavor soberly and judiciously to admire that which is lastingly good, and weed out that which is ephemeral and weak.” In 1836 Browne first became associated with Charles Dickens, his senior by only three years, in the illustration of Dickens’ little work, Sunday as It Is by Timothy Sparks. The book gave Browne the opportunity to reveal his comic genius. He was then chosen by Dickens to illustrate the Pickwick Papers after Robert Seymour’s death. “For the first two plates [Browne] assumed the modest pseudonym ‘Nemo,’ but afterwards adopted that of ‘Phiz’ as more consonant to the novelist’s ‘Boz.” Although he often only received a verbal description of the scene to be depicted, “in some instances the conception of the artist unquestionably bettered that of the author” (DNB). With a frontispiece portrait of Browne by W.G.R. Browne (signed by him). Early invoice mounted on front fly-leaf. A quarto edition of 250 copies was issued at the same time. Bookplate and cover monogram of notable collector of books and musical instruments Charles van Raalte.
Text and plates with only occasional stray patches of foxing, binding fine. A splendid production in about-fine condition.