London: William Heinemann Ltd., 1929. Item #05154
A Wonderful Example of Miss Currie's Work
FORE-EDGE PAINTING. MISS C.B. CURRIE, artist. RIVIÈRE & SON, binders. GALSWORTHY, John.
A Modern Comedy. London: William Heinemann Ltd., 1929.
With a very fine fore-edge painting by Miss C.B. Currie of Mapledurham, Oxfordshire (from The Forsyte Saga).
Inserted limitation leaf at front "This is No. 160 of the Books/with Fore-edge Paintings/by/Miss Currie/The Painting under the gold/is a view of/Mapledurham./Signed/ C.B. Currie"
First edition. Octavo (7 1/8 x 4 5/8 inches; 180 x 117 mm.). [ii, Miss Currie signed limitation, verso blank], [i]-xxvii, [i, blank], -1088 pp. Inserted folded "Forsyte Family Tree" (small neat repair to one fold).
Bound ca. 1930 by Rivière & Son for Henry Sotheran. Full dark blue straight-grain morocco, covers elaborately tooled in gilt and blind, spine with five raised bands, decoratively tooled in gilt and blind, and lettered in gilt in compartments. Gilt -ruled board edges, gilt decorated turn-ins, gray endpapers, all edges gilt. A very fine example housed in a custom made felt-lined black cloth clamshell case with black leather label on spine lettered in gilt.
"The miniature painter "Miss C.B. Currie" (b. December 12, 1849; d. April 2, 1940) was one of the most prominent fore-edge artists in the twentieth century. A master of the art of miniature painting, she excelled as a copyist working for Henry Sotheran Booksellers, London. She became famous for her miniature paintings applied to two art forms. First on ivory, mounted on Rivière bindings and named by her employer as "Cosway" bindings. Later she expanded her work into the art of painting on the fanned edge of a book -- called a fore-edge painting. Most of these paintings were signed and numbered by the artist. Whereas fore-edge painting history is replete with unknown artists, Currie is a notable exception. Even today, many fore-edge artists remain anonymous. In the book world, the name Miss C.B. Currie is widely recognized, yet her personal life and real name remained guarded and unknown until now. It turns out her name was, in fact, partly a pseudonym. Though her work is highly prized, there is no known published biography. Her correct full name was recently discovered to be Caroline Billin Curry. During her entire artistic career Curry used the slightly altered version of her name "Currie". Her true full name is not to be found in any published record of her work from Sotheran's. Her private affairs remain mostly unknown to us, and sadly no portrait photograph is known… The earliest year Currie fore-edge paintings appear in Sotheran catalogues is a 1913 supplemental leaf, and after that not until 1924 (see Currie 20). Since nineteen fore-edge paintings were made prior to 1924 and none of these appear in the Sotheran catalogues available to me from 1910-1923, it is unclear as to when the fore-edge painting effort really began. She may have made a few fore-edge paintings from ca. 1911 to 1914, and then discontinued until after the war. The number 172 was reached by 1931 and it seems unlikely that many more were done after that date…" (Weber. Catalogue Raisonné (2010) p. 273. .
Provenance: Sotheran's catalogue 819 supplement, item 1690, illustrated; Christie's, London, 29th Ocotber, 1969, lot 19, purchased by E. Joseph, London; Brauun Rasmussen 6th December 2005; New England Book Auction 18th April, 2006 purchased by Jeff Weber; Sold to Randall Moscovitz (2007).
Weber. Annotated Dictionary of Fore-Edge Painting… Catalogue Raisonné No. 160 (p. 344 with photograph).