London: N.p., 1920. Item #01192
Forty-Eight Original Kyd Watercolors
"The Law is an Ass"
But the Artwork is Sublime
KYD, (pseudonym of Joseph Clayton Clarke) artist. [DICKENS, Charles]. Representatives of the Law. (Ranging from the Bench to the Broker’s man), extracted from the Works of Dickens, and portrayed by “Kyd” in a series of 48 Character Studies drawn in colours. London: ca. 1920.
Calligraphic title page in an orange border and with a judge’s head at the top, calligraphic list of plates in a green border, and forty-eight original watercolors by Kyd.
All loose sheets, each measuring 10 9/16 x 7 7/8 inches and with the paintings within fine line borders comprising a panel measuring 7 x 4 1/2 inches. Each is a painting of a legal character from one of Dickens many works. The name of the character is in pen at the top left hand corner of the image space and the title of the book in which the character is found is located at the lower right hand corner.
Each painting is signed by Kyd and depicts forty-eight judges, lawyers, solicitors, clerks, police, and prison turnkeys found in Dickens's novels, including Mr. Jaggers (Great Expectations); Mr. Perker (Pickwick Papers); Mr. Blathers (Oliver Twist); Uriah Heep (David Copperfield); Mr. Jinks (Pickwick Papers); Mr. Mallard (Pickwick Papers); Serjeant Buzfuz (Pickwick Papers); Mr. Chuckster (Old Curiosity Shop); Mr. Guppy (Bleak House); Mr. Tulkinghorn (Bleak House); and many others, not the least of whom is Sampson Brass ((Old Curiosity Shop), "an attorney of no very good repute…with a cringing manner, whose blandest smiles were so extremely forbidding that to have had his company under the least repulsive circumstances one would have wished him to scowl" - a character we strenuously assert to have no connection whatsoever in fiction or in life to our Brass family.
Chemised in burgundy moire silk and housed in a full red morocco pull-off case with gilt spine lettering. A singular collection and fine.
Dickens was intimately knowledgeable about the legal world. He began his professional life as a law clerk and had ambition to pursue the law as a career. As a result, “Charles Dickens was preeminently the novelist of the law, and his lawyers have a hold upon the public imagination far surpassing that of any other author” (Fyfe, Charles Dickens and the Law, p.7).
"Dickens used a repeated and consistent pattern in presenting lawyers in his works… Generally, the lawyers have been treated simply as parts of other investigations, or as objects of Dickens' contempt. [In] Robert D. Neely's The Lawyers of Dickens and Their Clerks, [Neely] express[es] the opinion…that Dickens had a disdain for lawyers. 'One of the most marked prejudices was his dislike of lawyers, and all that pertained to the machinery of government.' This hatred is explained and justified in various ways. Philip Collins in Dickens and Crime states that the author was following a literary tradition in treating the lawyers
vituperatively. In Charles Dickens: His Tragedy and Triumph Edgar Johnson sees Dickens' treatment of lawyers as one more
aspect of his hatred of business. And Humphrey House in The Dickens World views the lawyer similarly to Johnson; House
states that the lawyer has only a business, professional approach to people and to life. Thus, the lawyers are dismissed…" (Baughman, Charles Dickens and His Lawyers. ALSA Forum Volume 6, Number Number 2 ).
“The one great principle of the English law is, to make business for itself. There is no other principle distinctly, certainly, and consistently maintained through all its narrow turnings.” (Bleak House)
"'If the law supposes that,' said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, 'the law is an ass - an idiot. If that's the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is, that his eye may be opened by experience'" (Oliver Twist).
"What lawsuits grow out of the graves of rich men, every day; sowing perjury, hatred, and lies among near kindred, where there should be nothing but love!" (Martin Chuzzlewit).
"Why, I don't exactly know about perjury, my dear sir," replied the little gentleman. "Harsh word, my dear sir, very harsh word indeed. It's a legal fiction, my dear sir, nothing more." (Pickwick Papers).
Joseph Clayton Clark (1856-1937) worked as a freelance artist with a particular affection for Dickens, his Dickens illustrations first appearing in 1887 in Fleet Street Magazine, with two collections soon to follow: The Characters of Charles Dickens (1889) and Some Well Known Characters from the Works of Charles Dickens (1892). Beginning in the 1920s, he earned his living from watercolor sketches, mainly of Dickens' characters, which he sold to and through the London book trade. Frederic G. Kitton gives him early notice in his classic text, Dickens and His Illustrators (1890); Kyd's watercolors were at that date already being avidly bought by major Dickens collectors (Kitton, p. 233), the Cosens sale in 1890 successfully selling a collection of 241 of Kyd's Dickens watercolors, and Mr. Tom Wilson, at the time the foremost collector of Dickens, possessing 331 of Kyd's drawings. The British Museum has a collection of 598 drawings and paintings of the artist's Dickens work, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, Dickens House in London, and the University of Texas at Austin each have significant collections of Kyd.
As for this collection of original art by Kyd on Dickens and the law and its representatives, "Take nothing on its looks; take everything on evidence. There's no better rule" (Great Expectations). The indictment: An unique, superb and singular collection of Dickensiana. The verdict: Guilty as charged. Collection to be remanded into custody for years of enjoyment.