The Romance of King Arthur & His Knights of the Round Table. Abridged from Malory's Morte d'Arthur. Arthur. Malory RACKHAM, Thomas, Alfred W. Pollard.
The Romance of King Arthur & His Knights of the Round Table. Abridged from Malory's Morte d'Arthur
The Romance of King Arthur & His Knights of the Round Table. Abridged from Malory's Morte d'Arthur

The Romance of King Arthur & His Knights of the Round Table. Abridged from Malory's Morte d'Arthur…
The Romance of King Arthur & His Knights of the Round Table. Abridged from Malory's Morte d'Arthur

London: Macmillan and Co., 1917.

Quarto, sixteen mounted colour plates, with descriptive tissue guards, and seventy drawings in black and white; publisher's full vellum over boards pictorially stamped and lettered in gilt on front cover and spine, top edge gilt, others uncut.

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Edition de Luxe. Limited to 500 copies, numbered and signed by the artist.

Edition de Luxe. Limited to 500 copies, numbered and signed by the artist.

"The Romance of King Arthur (1917) was another wartime book, commissioned to reflect the nations' mood of patriotism, and martial endeavour. In preparing for the commission, Rackham turned to his own copy of Beardsley's Morte D'Arthur and, following the pattern of the Beardsley version, drew square and rectangular chapter headings to be set at irregular intervals up and down the page. As in Beardsley, these have a stark black and white appearance, though Rackham cannot resist the occasional wryly humorous touch such as a barking dog or a jester's head. The closest Rackham comes to Beardsley, however, is in his illustration of Sangreal, a flaming lidded chalice carried by an attenuated golden-haired white-robed maiden. This homage to Aubrey is based closely on Beardsley's own angel in The Achieving of the Sangreal, the frontispiece to Volume Two of Morte D'Arthur." (James Hamilton. Arthur Rackham. A Biography. pp.111-112).

Throughout the war, Rackham lived in London at Chalcot Gardens, in South Hampstead, despite the frequency of air raids and bombings. It was during the wartime years that he produced a number of his great works, including A Christmas Carol, The Allies' Fairy Book, Little Brother and Little Sister and his classic work on King Arthur. In 1918, his nephew wrote of him that "I looked upon him as the only truly happy man I had yet come across because he was absorbed in his work to the exclusion of everything else, and even the grim war news and the air raids left him untroubled" (Hamilton, 112).

Sutherland, referring to Rackham's work in the 20th Century, states: "Rackman was, without doubt, one of the finest illustrators of the century." In his survey of British Book Illustration, Salaman stated: "Mr. Rackham stands apart from all the other illustrators of the day; his genius is so thoroughly original. Scores of others have depicted fairyland and wonderland, but who else has given us so absolutely individual and persuasively suggestive a vision of their marvels and allurements? Whose elves are so elfish, whose witches and gnomes are so convincingly of their kind, as Mr. Rackham's?"

Hamilton summarised his article on Rackham in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography thus: "Rackham brought a renewed sense of excitement to book illustration that coincided with the rapid developments in printing technology in the early twentieth century. Working with subtle colour and wiry line, he exploited the growing strengths of commercial printing to create imagery and characterizations that reinvigorated children's literature, electrified young readers, and dominated the art of book illustration at the start of a new century."

"The story of King Arthur and his Knights is one of the greatest that men have ever made, greater by far than that of Charlemagne, which had come into fashion a little earlier, greater perhaps even than the Tale of Troy, already some two thousand years old, which for some centuries it eclipsed. It is through the fifteenth-century prose of Sir Thomas Malory, in which homeliness and nobility go hand-in-hand, that it holds its place in our hearts, but the story itself was the outcome of the second half of the twelfth century and the beginning of the thirteenth, the days in England of Henry II. and his three turbulent sons, Geoffrey, Richard Coeur de Lion, and John, the days in France of trouvère and troubadour, the days in Italy of S. Francis of Assisi. and the worldliness against which he strove. Something of the spirit of all these entered into the story, together with some contemporary theology, while the stuff of which it was woven was largely derived from the Celtic borderland with which the Norman rulers of England had come in contact in Wales and Brittany. (kellscraft.com/KingArthur/KingArthurContentPage.html)

Provenance: James Fairfax (from his library at Retford Park, Bowral NSW, with bookplate).

Latimore and Haskell, p. 47. Riall, p. 130.

Condition Report: A few scattered age spots otherwise very good

Price (AUD): $3,250.00

US$2,524.75   Other currencies

Ref: #4505151

Condition Report