“AS THE SOIL IS, SO THE HEART OF MAN”: BARTLETT’S ILLUSTRATED SCENERY OF IRELAND, HANDSOMELY BOUND
BARTLETT, William Henry. The Scenery and Antiquities of Ireland… With Historical and Descriptive Text by J. Stirling Coyne, N.P. Willis, etc. London: Virtue & Co., circa 1870. Two volumes bound in one. Quarto, original elaborately gilt green cloth, all edges gilt. $1800.
Early edition of this wonderful collaborative production on the Irish landscape by historians Nathaniel Parker Willis and Joseph Stirling Coyne, and famous British topographical artist William Henry Bartlett, who provided 120 magnificent steel-engraved views, including two engraved vignette title pages, and a map of Ireland.
First published in 1842, these finely engraved views, drawn from Bartlett's extensive travels throughout the country, include waterfalls, lakes, castles, churches and other testimonials to Ireland's renowned landscape. In his Preface, the publisher assures subscribers that "while the artist and authors have been seeking by lake and mountain the wild and beautiful in Nature, they have not overlooked the time-honored memorials of Art, which lie scattered so plentifully through the country— the desolate castles and fortalices, moss-grown and hoar with age; the mouldering relics of ecclesiastical greatness; the green raths and mounds, with their old legends and fairy traditions; the solemn and mysterious monuments of Pagan superstition." Concerned with rendering "lively impressions of actual sights," Bartlett became recognized as one of the foremost illustrators of topography. "Bartlett could select his point of view," wrote co-author Willis, "so as to bring prominently into his sketch the castle or the cathedral, which history or antiquity had allowed." His method was to make sepia wash drawings on site, in the exact size to be engraved. Earlier editions of Bartlett were published by George Virtue. When Virtue retired in 1855, his second son, James Sprent Virtue, took over the house. In 1871 Samuel Spalding was admitted a partner in the business, and in 1874 Frederic Richard Daldy, was also taken into the house. The second engraved vignette title page in this edition bears the imprint of James S. Virtue, while the letterpress title pages bear the Virtue & Co. imprint, most likely from the time James Virtue took on Spalding and Daldy as partners. Issued without the frontispiece portrait of Willis.
Scattered foxing to margins of plates, images generally clean and fine; publisher's elaborately gilt cloth quite handsome.