London: William Heinemann, 1905. Item #02842
“The First Book Illustrated Wholly by Rackham
To be Issued in a Limited Edition” (Riall).
[RACKHAM, Arthur, illustrator]. IRVING, Washington. Rip Van Winkle. London: William Heinemann, 1905.
Deluxe Edition, one of 250 numbered copies signed by Arthur Rackham, this being copy no. 180. Quarto. 57 pp. Color frontispiece and fifty color plates mounted on heavy brown paper with lettered tissue guards, collected at end of text.
Original gilt pictorial vellum. Top edge gilt, others untrimmed. With the Rackham-designed bookplate of Rackham collector C.L. Lazarus. Endpapers a little foxed. Silk ties replaced, otherwise a fine copy. Chemised and housed within a blue cloth slipcase.
Around the middle of 1904... Ernest Brown & Phillips commissioned 50 color illustrations to Rip Van Winkle, and purchased the originals and all rights for 300 guineas. The publishing rights were then resold in a complicated deal to Heinemann, before the illustrations were exhibited at Brown and Phillips' Leicester Galleries... Most of the Rip drawings were sold at the exhibition, and by October they had all found purchasers.
"Brown and Phillips' investment, made secure by the keenness of Rackham's purchasers, was not let down by the reviews his work received.
"... When, in September 1905, Rip Van Winkle was published, comparisons between Rackham and German artists [i.e. Dürer and Joseph Sattler] continued to be voiced, The Times remarking on 'the marvel of his Düreresque detail.'
"... The 51 illustrations, for a story of not more than five thousand words, enables the story to be told twice, once through Irving's words, and once again, image by image, through Rackham's pictures... In his illustrations, Rackham pays homage not only to Dürer, Cruikshank and Dutch seventeenth-century painting, but to contemporary artists, too..." (Hamilton).
"... But the first work that greatly advanced his fame in the years immediately following his marriage was his edition of Rip Van Winkle… This lovely book decisively established Rackham as the leading decorative illustrator of the Edwardian period... The deluxe edition of the book was fully subscribed before the [Leicester Galleries] exhibition closed" (Hudson).
Latimore and Haskell p. 26. Riall p. 69. Gettings p. 176. Hamilton pp. 68. Hudson pp. 57, 167. Hudson, p. 180 (Rackham bookplate).