London: William Heinemann Ltd., 1909. Item #04335
"A Masterpiece of Sympathetic Understanding"
Edition de Luxe, Signed by the Artist
In a Fine Inlaid Binding by Richard Smart
[RACKHAM, Arthur, illustrator]. FOUQUÉ, De La Motte. [SMART, Richard, binder]. Undine. Adapted from the German by W.L. Courtney and Illustrated by Arthur Rackham. London / New York: William Heinemann / Doubleday, Page & Co., 1909.
Edition de Luxe, limited to 1000 large-paper copies signed by the artist, this being copy no. 544.
Quarto (10 7/8 x 8 1/2 inches; 276 x 216 mm.). viii, 136 pp. Title-page printed in black and green. Fifteen color plates mounted on brown art paper, with captioned tissue guards. Thirty drawings in black and white. Color plate facing p. 24 with almost imperceptible crease on lower left corner.
Handsomely bound by Richard Smart (stamp-signed in gilt on rear turn-in). Full medium green crushed levant morocco over boards. Front cover with double-ruled gilt border surrounding an 'art nouveau' border of waves and eddies inlaid in gray, blue and orange morocco's outlined in gilt and with the title and "Illustrated by Arthur Rackham" in gilt. In the center of the front cover is a superb inlaid design in multi colored textured and hand-painted morocco based on the headpiece of chapter XIX (page 113) "How the Knight Huldbrand was buried". The inlaid image shows the widowed bride, Undine, kneeling on the ground with the castle in the background. To the left of the image the binder has added a Rackhamesque tree with leaves outlined in gilt. Spine with five raised bands decoratively tooled and lettered in gilt in compartments. Elaborate gilt turn-ins. Green marbled liners and end-leaves. Fine.
A superb and very attractive binding.
"This is the story of the Knight Huldbrand of Ringstetten and of Undine, telling how the Knight wedded with a water-sprite, and what chanced therefrom: and how the Knight died and was buried: and how Undine returned to her element beneath the Mediterranean Sea." (Introduction).
"With the aqueous world of Undine Rackham found an opportunity to revive and develop his earlier art nouveau linear decorative drawing. especially in the need to incorporate waves and water currents in his pictures. He was thus able to connect a felicitious quality of decoration into his plates, was well as a new feeling for flat pattern which harks back to fin de siècle without being too openly mannered" (Gettings, Arthur Rackham, p. 123).
"Although the waves and eddies of Undine bear the mark of Art Nouveau, the work was still another step forward for Rackham, the unity of conception in the line drawings and the colour plates, the assertion of contrast in the moods of the heroine, rendering it a masterpiece of sympathetic understanding" (Hudson, p. 80).
Hudson, p. 168; Latimore and Haskell p. 34; Riall p. 93.