First edition, first printing. Signed and inscribed by the author in black ink to the front endpaper: "To my dear and honoured teacher John Ruskin, from C. E. Mathews." Publisher's original black cloth with a view of Mont Blanc in gilt to the upper board and titles in gilt to the spine. Top edge gilt, others untrimmed. Illustrated with 37 black and white plates and a folding colour map at the rear. A very good copy, the binding square and firm with cracking to the paper covering the inner hinges and a little rubbing to the extremities. The contents with a previous owner's bookplate to the front pastedown, tanning to the endpapers and occasional minor spotting to the text-block edge are otherwise in good order and clean throughout. The folding map remains free from tears or damage.
Charles Edward Mathews (1834-1905), a leading pioneer of Alpine exploration, was the largest contributor to "Peaks, Passes, and Glaciers" (1859 & 1862) and one of the original members of the Alpine Club, serving as its president between 1869 and 1871. "The Annals of Mont Blanc" was his most important contribution to Alpine literature, providing a critical analysis of the original narratives of the early ascents of the mountain (which he himself had climbed at least twelve times), as well as a history and description of all the later routes by which its summit had been reached. John Ruskin (1819-1900), the leading art critic of the Victorian era, prominent social thinker, and influential author in a range of fields, had developed a great love of the Alps following family travels there during his youth. Returning multiple times later in life, he most notably visited to gather material for the third and fourth volumes of "Modern Painters". Here, he presented the geology of the Alps in terms of landscape painting, as well as their moral and spiritual influence on those living nearby. For Ruskin, this effect was obvious, as he declared: "My most intense happinesses have of course been among mountains" (Cook, ed., Complete Works of John Ruskin, vol.35, p.157). During his visits, Ruskin came to know the Alps well, observing their development as the Mecca of mountaineering, writing on geology and Alpine flora, and producing several paintings. He became a member of the Alpine Club in 1869, fulfilling the criterion of promoting a "better knowledge of the mountains through literature, science and art", and it was here that he came to know Mathews, who was serving as its president at the time of his admission. A scarce and evocative association copy.
Stock code: 17461