Rip Van Winkle
London: William Heinemann, 1905. Item #03646
First Trade Edition
Fifty-One Mounted Color Plates
[RACKHAM, Arthur, illustrator]. IRVING, Washington. Rip Van Winkle. London: William Heinemann, 1905.
First Trade Edition. Quarto (9 7/8 x 7 1/4 inches; 251 x 184 mm.). viii, 57, [1 blank], pp. Color frontispiece and fifty color plates mounted with titles tissue guards.
Publishers green cloth, pictorially stamped in gilt on front cover and lettered in gilt on spine, plain green end-papers, all edges stained green. Preliminary text leaves and some tissue-guards foxed, spine slightly faded and a little worn at head and tail. Small repaired tear cloth on edge of front board, lower corners worn. In inscription date Xmas 1905 on verso of front free end-paper. A good copy only.
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 pp. 69/70. Gettings p. 176. Hamilton pp. 68. Hudson pp. 57, 167. Hudson, p. 180 (Rackham bookplate).