"CRITICS ADMIRED THE SOUNDNESS OF WAUGH'S AESTHETIC JUDGMENT": EVELYN WAUGH'S FIRST BOOK, ROSSETTI, 1928 FIRST EDITION
(ROSSETTI, Dante Gabriel) WAUGH, Evelyn. Rossetti. His Life and Works. London: Duckworth, 1928. Octavo, 20th-century full navy morocco gilt, raised bands, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. $850.
First edition of Evelyn Waugh's first book, a biographical study of the eminent Pre-Raphaelite's artistic career, with frontispiece portrait and seven full-page plates, handsomely bound by Bayntun-Riviere in full morocco.
"Waugh's approach to the Church was preceded by a love affair with the Pre-Raphaelites" (Joseph Pearce). Dante Gabriel Rossetti was a founder and central figure in the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Rossetti's artistic peak in the 1860s (labeled "the Good Years" by Waugh) saw the completion of three notable paintings: "Lady Lilith," "The Beloved," and "Beata Beatrix." To Waugh, "Beata Beatrix" (1863), is "perhaps the most purely spiritual and devotional work of European Art since the fall of the Byzantine Empire. This statement is offered as a considered judgment and not as an ecstatic outburst." "Rossetti: His Life and Works appeared in April 1928 to good reviews from all except Peter Quennell, an Oxford friend whom Waugh never forgave for this disloyalty. Critics admired the soundness of Waugh's aesthetic judgment: the knowledge of the practical techniques of painting, the terse humor, and the scholarly correction of Marillier's authoritative catalogue. A front-page spread in the Times Literary Supplement ensured good publicity, but there was little money to be made from such a book" (ODNB). Published by Waugh's father's publishing house and illustrated with frontispiece portrait of Rossetti and seven additional plates.
A handsome volume in fine condition.