Edinburgh: Printed by James Ballantyne, 1809. Item #05175
A Very Fine Contemporary Fore-Edge Painting possibly by the Taylor & Hessey Artist
FORE-EDGE PAINTING. THOMSON, James. The Seasons. Edinburgh: Printed by James Ballantyne, 1809.
With a very fine contemporary fore-edge painting of 'Westminster Abbey from the River Thames' possibly by the Taylor & Hessey artist.
Twelvemo (6 3/8 x 3 3/4 inches; 163 x 95 mm.). [iv], [i]-xxii, [2, contents, verso blank], -262 pp. Including engraved vignette title.
Bound ca. 1809 in the style of or possibly by Taylor & Hessey. Full green straight-grain morocco, covers elaborately bordered in gilt with gilt floral pieces. Spine with three wide raised bands, decoratively tooled in gilt in compartments and lettered in gilt on the raised bands. Gilt decorated board-edges , gilt ruled turn-ins, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. Original booksellers printed ticket "Sold at/Barratt's Library./Bond Street, Bath." on front paste-down.
“Taylor & Hessey were busy throughout these fifteen years [1808-1823], not only in publishing and in binding, but also in re-binding books published by others…Taylor & Hessey usually bound their fine books in morocco—red, blue, brown, crimson, green—and ‘signed’ their bindings by stamping their name in gilt in the fore-edge of the binding (not the leaves, note), whenever the boards inside the leather were thick enough to carry the name of the firm…But their water-color artist who worked on the fore-edge of the leaves did not follow the same practice, and we are therefore unable to name that artist. This is regrettable, for he was an extremely able fore-edge decorator. At least twenty-four of his creations have reached American libraries and have been examined by the present writer…These paintings are enough to tell us something about the tastes and abilities of the Taylor & Hessey decorator. Except for a copy of Mrs. Tighe’s Psyche (London, 1811), on the fore-edge of which ‘the Marlborough Gem’ is painted, all the Taylor & Hessey edges are decorated with pictures of buildings or landscapes. The former predominate: Lambeth Palace, Roslin Castle, Haddon Hall, Westminster Abbey, Combe Lodge, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, etc.—these all follow the Edwards example. The painting of ‘Buckingham Palace’ on the fore-edge of Thomson’s Seasons (London, 1809) is a fine piece of workmanship…and is distinguishable from the best work of the Edwards artist or artists chiefly by a less skillful execution of the reflections on the surface of the water. The Taylor & Hessey landscapes are equally splendid. A two-volume Cowper (London, J. Johnson, 1812)…has two delightfully executed fore-edge paintings: one a harvesting scene, with hills in the distance beyond rolling farmland country; the other, a woodland landscape, with a distant village seen through an opening in the foliage…there is a copy (once in the library of Prinz von Preussen at Dessau) of the anonymous English Minstrelsy of Fugitive Poetry (Edinburgh, John Ballantyne, 1810), with a beautiful painting, nicely preserved, of a white-towered castle on a river-bank…One of the very best of the Taylor & Hessey edges is a picture of Westminster Abbey from the river Thames, painted on an 1811 Bible” (C.J. Weber, Fore-Edge Painting, pp. 106-111).
Provenance: Sold by Maggs of London to Mrs. Estelle Doheny June 7th, 1949 (her acquisition number " 6297" in ink on verso of rear blank leaf); Catalogue of the Books and Manuscripts in the Estelle Doheny Collection, part III, Los Angeles, 1955;.