(The book published in Cambridge: At the University Press for Members of the Limited Editions Club, 1954).
A RARE AND BEAUTIFUL ORIGINAL PAINTING BY EDMUND DULAC. Dulac is considered one of the most original and prolific book illustrator’s of the first two decades of the 20th century. His name is often linked with Arthur Rackham, as they both produced illustrations for lavish gift books for children and adults which were of the highest quality and commercial success. Dulac, born a Frenchman, settled in England to build his artistic career. He quickly caught the eye of J.M Dent publishers and produced illustrations for an illustrated edition of Jane Eyre in 1905. But it was when he was discovered by Leicester Galleries that his career actually took off. They had been seeking another talented artist of the stature and appeal of Arthur Rackham for children’s gift book illustrations. At that time, children’s books were purchased by the wealthy as symbols of good taste and there was a huge market to be captured by a new, imaginative artist. Dulac was the perfect choice.
Dulac offered a new sensibility to book illustration by his intense use of color, his Eastern atmosphere, his brightly jeweled patterns, and mystical themes. His work met with instant success and approbation. From 1907 with the publication of his magnificent Arabian Nights until 1914 with the issue of Sinbad the Sailor, he published an annual collection of outstanding watercolors for gift books for children. These books included: The Tempest in 1908, the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam in 1909, Sleeping Beauty in 1910, Stories from Hans Anderson in 1911, Bells and other Poems (Edgar Allan Poe) in 1912, and Princess Badoura in 1913. During the war years, when an understandable shift in publishing took place, he produced Princess Mary’s Gift Book, King Albert’s Books, Edmund Dulac’s Picture Book for the French Red Cross, and in 1916 Edmund Dulac’s Fairy Book. All of his books were highly praised and he became one of the most sought after illustrators in the world.
Dulac as a young artist had been deeply inspired by William Morris, Walter Crane and Aubrey Beardsley. He had a spiritual temperament which developed throughout his life and was intensified by his exposure to Eastern mysticism. Much of his art was inspired by Persian miniatures in its use of bright, radiant colors, detailed patterns and asymmetrical compositions. He aimed to take his art out of the realm of representation and into a more subjective, mystical “eternal” plane. He produced some of the most enduring works of beauty and transcendence during his artistic career, and continues to be appreciated and collected to this day.
Dulac's illustrations conjure the mysterious atmosphere of the oriental text and transport the reader to a lyrical world of grace and beauty. “The Arabian Nights gave Dulac an opportunity to indulge in his nocturnes; the the softness of the gleam of moonlight on stone, or on shadowy figures, and his use of ultramarine, indigo and Prussian blue, mingled with purples and violets, brought to the illustrations the calm and mystery of Eastern nights.”-Colin White
Dulac's illustrations evoked the oriental atmosphere in a new and beautiful way and he treated each picture with a seriousness that brought him great praise, showing that he, like any fine easel painter could accomplish great art, even for use in the book arts. The book sealed his reputation and set him permanently on the long course of success he would enjoy throughout his career. The original painting offered here represents a rare opportunity to own one of the painter’s most accomplished pieces. Item #19802
Together two items. AN ORIGINAL WATERCOLOUR PAINTING, SIGNED by Dulac and reprinted as one of the illustrations for the publication of COMUS. With, a copy of the book itself, first edition thus from the L.E.C. in a printing of 1500 numbered copies. The painting is of a woman standing in field of flowers within the curve of a dragon’s tale. Behind her is a large tree laden with fruit and with additional floral and arboreal decorations in the background. The book contains the printed version of this work along with 5 other colourplates from original watercolours by Dulac. This was the last book to be illustrated by Dulac. With frame,16.5” 13.5” , the painting is now handsomely matted and presented in silver-leafed wooden frame. The book is in the publisher’s original parchment backed marbled boards, the spine lettered in gilt and housed in the original black slipcase lettered in gilt. 58, . The original painting in beautiful condition, very handsomely framed and presented, the book is a fine and bright copy, the slipcase only with very minor wear.