Thirteen Original Drawings to Illustrate Edgar Allen Poe

Aubrey Beardsley's Illustrations to Edgar Allen Poe
One of One Hundred and Seven Copies Privately Printed in 1926
This Being A Unique Special Large-Paper Copy Printed on Japan Vellum

BEARDSLEY, AUBREY, Illustrator. POE, Edgar Allen. Illustrations to Edgar Allen Poe. From drawings by Aubrey Beardsley. Indianapolis: Privately Printed For The Aubrey Beardsley Club, 1926.

First and only edition. Limited to one hundred and seven [numbered] copies (this copy not numbered), printed for members only.

Large folio (23 11/16 x 16 7/8 inches; 602 x 429 mm.). Calligraphic title-page "Thirteen Original Drawings by Aubrey Beardlsey to Illustrate Edgar Allen Poe. Copy of the book on Japan Vellum Inlayed To Size" done in blue, red, purple and gold ink. The original leaves which are all inlaid actually measure approximately 10 x 7 inches.

Note by Justin McCarthy 1 page; note by Rudyard Kipling 1 page; Preface 2 pp., Seventeen plates, all with descriptive text opposite.

Contemporary full red morocco, covers with triple gilt rules, front cover lettered in gilt "Thirteen Original Drawings / by / Aubrey Beardsley / to illustrate / Edgar Allen Poe". Spine with five raised bands, ruled and lettered in gilt in compartments, decorative gilt turn-ins, marbled end-papers, top edge gilt.

A spectacular presentation of the Aubrey Beardsley Poe Illustrations - some by Beardsley - the others by at least two of his forgers, most "probably H.S. Nichols and one of his associates." (Lasner)

"There exist many forgeries of Beardsley's drawings. Most are fraudulent copies of genuine originals. Some are outright fakes, and still others might best be termed "pastiches," in which elements from existing works are combined to make a "new" image. Just who was responsible for specific deceptions is difficult to assess, the most likely culprits being three of Leonard Smithers's associates — John Black, Alfred Cooper, and H[arry]. S[idney]. Nichols — as well as possibly Smithers himself, and at least one American working in the period 1920-50." (Lasner)

The Plates (all inlaid to size) :

1. Portrait of Aubrey Beardsley.
2. Portrait of Edgar Allen Poe.
3. The Black Cat. (Uncollected Work, plate #27)
4. The Black Cat [#2].
5. The Fall of the House of Usher. (This a a different drawing to that shown in the Uncollected Work, plate #28)
6. The Mask of The Red Death. (Uncollected Work, plate #29)
7. The Murder in the Rue Morgue.
8. The Murder in the Rue Morgue [#2]. (Uncollected Work, plate #26)
9. Edgar Allen Poe The Raven with Self Portrait of Aubrey Beardsley Dying.
10. The Gold Bug.
11. Tamarlane.
12. The Orient.
13. Leonora.
14. Bust of Pallas.
15. Cover Design for Edgar Allen Poe's Tales.
16. Helen.
17. Drawing for a Tale of Edgar Allen Poe.

"This collection of Partly Unpublished Drawings of Aubrey Beardsley is notably remarkable for its extensive and varied scope and for its magnificent specimens of the artist's craft. Several examples very proudly and justly can be called masterpieces in this series of illustrations to the works of Edgar Allan Poe, of which heretofore only slight public intimation was given of their existence, and which might artistically take rank with Bearsley's Morte D'Arthur. This collection is very rich in many choice examples of artistic talent and versatility, showing traits so conspicuous that no other artist whose work has been in Black and White can even approach in merit some of the specimens that appear in this collection. Only a few of them have ever been reproduced as here portrayed.

Beardsley was, and is, primarily an "artist's artist." The beautiful qualities of his strong and wonderful lines, his perfect arrangement of masses of Black and White, the daring conception, the profuse and immense detail, are of the elements that go to make his work and name immortal; though not that which mean mere popularity; their decorative qualities have never been surpassed, a fact glaringly apparent to the veriest tyro, whose slightest glance at Beardsley's work in this collection is enough; and where one can grasp the reason why Beardsley Drawings had a vogue vastly greater than those of any other artist of his time.

The collection's chief charm to the connoisseur lies in the fact that many of the pieces are unique and unknown, while other pieces carry such titles as have already become familiar to those who know his work. Those that were given publication do not in any case surpass some of those published now for the first time. Why these drawings were never published, and whether they were first conceptions of the subjects, or afterthoughts, seeking, as Beardsley always was, to surpass himself, with that feverish activity that consumed the man when he enjoyed the subject in hand, is a mystery; yet it is only necessary to consider the characteristics of Beardsley, who at twenty years of age was at once a musical prodigy, both as composer and performer, an author of considerable prose and poetry of much merit, a master scholar with all the classics at his finger ends, and an uncanny knowledge of the famous modern books, a remarkable clever amateur actor of talent, a draughtsman, and greatest yet, an illustrator and artist of wonderful scope, who though never intended for the many, excited the general public's curiosity by his novel style and audacious inventions; much of it deliberately regardless of conventional prejudices, his contempt of criticism regarding his acts, public or private. His secrecy as to his methods of work and life are well known.

This Poe series is of the utmost importance not only as a publication proposition, but as an artistic triumph, which circumstances would not permit to be kept hidden and which are at once to be regarded as a fit tribute to the remarkable genius of this youthful artist, to be published now when the clamor against some of the mischievous effronteries of Beardsley has died down; a state of affairs that prevails today. The editors apologize for the poor reproduction of the few drawings which have been published before." (Preface).

We can locate just one other copy in institutions worldwide - at the Staatsbibliothek Zu Berlin.

Aubrey Beardsley’s four Edgar Allen Poe illustrations were commissioned by Herbert S. Stone and Company, Chicago, in 1894 as an embellishment for the ten volume collected edition of the author’s works. The Black Cat (plate #3) is justifiably the most reproduced of these. The Mask of the Red Death (plate #6) and two versions of The Murders in the Rue Morgue (plate #7 & plate $8) are contained in this volume. The Fall of the House of Usher (plate #5 is a different version from that depicted in the 1894 portfolio).

The Lasner entry (80c) reads: "Illustrations by Edgar Allen Poe from Drawings by Aubrey Beardsley. Indianapolis: Privately printed for The Aubrey Beadsley Club, 1926. By Beardsley: Four drawings reprinted from the earlier portfolios, along with 13 of the forgeries published by H.S. Nichols in 1920, see checklist no. 222. Black cloth, dust jacket. Notes: 107 numbered copies. The issuer's name and place of publication are decidedly fictitious and the limitation number probably meaningless."

Mark Samuels Lasner, A Checklist of the Published Work of Aubrey Beardsley, 80c and 222
Not in A.E. Gallatin, Aubrey Beardsley, Catalogue of Drawings and Bibliography.
Not in Simon Wilson, Beardsley. Item #03292

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