PLEA OF THE MIDSUMMER FAIRIES

Oblong folio. 33 original watercolour illustrations artistically incorporating manuscript calligraphic text. Handsomely bound by Roger de Coverly in contemporary crushed brown morocco. Boards decorated and ruled in gilt, titles in gilt to the upper board and with decorative gilt dentelles. The spine with five raised bands, titles in gilt and compartments richly decorated in gilt. Marbled endpapers. Thick card pages, all edges gilt. In very good condition, the binding square, firm and bright with a little rubbing to the boards and bumping to the corners. The contents with the occasional spot/mark are otherwise clean throughout and free from any previous owners' inscriptions or stamps. The superb watercolours remain fine and bright.

A wonderful illustrated manuscript of Thomas Hood's 1827 poem in which Queen Mab and her fairies, threatened with immanent destruction, are rescued by the timely intervention of William Shakespeare. Little is known of the artist Edith Mendham (fl. 1888-1911), who is recorded by the Victoria and Albert Museum as having exhibited at Clifton, Bristol in 1890, but the present work reveals her to have been a highly competent and skilled illustrator. The large, original watercolours on every page are delicate and detailed while retaining the freshness and fluidity of the medium, and the rendering of landscapes and the use of light and shadow is astoundingly accomplished and well observed. With its beautiful fairy imagery and artful compositions that trail the illustrations through the carefully inked text, it is a work that could easily be considered worthy of reproduction in its entirety today. Provenance: Christie's, 29th January 1979, lot 36.

Stock code: 17536

£10,000

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