London: Chapman and Hall, 1910. Item #01799
Off With Their Heads!
(But Keep Scarce Dust Jackets On)
One of Only 150 Copies
Signed by the Artist
[SULLIVAN, Edmund J., illustrator]. CARLYLE, Thomas. The French Revolution. A History. With Illustrations by Edmund J. Sullivan. London: Chapman and Hall, 1910.
Large paper copy, limited to 150 sets, signed by the artist, this being no. 83. Two quarto volumes (11 x 7 1/8 in; 282 x 181 mm). xii, , 418; xi, [1, blank], 484 pp. Thirty-three black and white plates and 124 black and white text illustrations.
Original quarter vellum over natural linen boards. Front cover and spine decoratively stamped and lettered in gilt. Top edge gilt, others uncut. A very fine set in the original pale blue dust jackets, printed in red.
"Of the three great political upheavals which have altered the face of the world - the American, French and Russian Revolutions - only the French Revolution has stimulated literary masterpieces which, in turn, have made their impact, direct and indirect, upon millions of readers... They are Carlyle's book and ... Michelet's... Carlyle wrote his French Revolution as a secular 'tract for the times' and as a warning for his compatriots of the frightful consequences of materialism, utilitarianism, and democracy... The book at once captured the English-speaking world, and has, outside France, moulded the popular conception of the French Revolution down to the present day" (PMM).
Edmund Joseph Sullivan (1869-1933) was a British book illustrator who worked in a style which merged the British tradition of illustration from the 1860s with aspects of Art Nouveau. He was only 20 years old when he began contributing to various magazines including the Daily Chronicle, The Daily Graphic, The Pall Mall Gazette and Punch magazine.
He soon graduated to the more prestigious role of book illustrator. Sullivan's style is comparable to that of Aubrey Beardsley, but is more romantic, without Beardley's acerbic attitude. Sullivan adapted his style to use the faux-Rococo techniques he had developed in order to combine them with bizarre images of strange fantastical figures, drawing on the genre of the grotesque. Sullivan also illustrated Carlyle's The French Revolution, using the same combination of Rococo and Grotesque to emphasize the violence erupting into the decorative world of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette's court.
Of Edmund J. Sullivan (1869-1933), Gordon N. Ray wrote “Sullivan’s career as an illustrator was one of the most substantial and distinguished in the annals of English art” (Ray, The Illustrator and the Book in England, p. 187).
Cf. PMM 304.