BELL, Faith. Illuminated photo album of the English Lake District. No publisher. 1904.
Large 4to (10 x 12 inches). Original half black morocco; elaborate hand-painted photo album consisting of 1 hand-illuminated leaf with signature 'Faith Bell' and date '1904', 14 cardboard leaves with hand illuminated calligraphy, illuminated borders and margins framing 34 gelatin silver or albumen photographs, mounted; with loose photograph of a young woman, presumably the author, and silhouette portrait of a woman inscribed "Yours lovingly/ Faith Bell/ 27th.Jan. 24" to reverse; a little occasional foxing, very good.
A unique album, richly illuminated in gilt and coloured inks with charming watercolour vignettes surrounding atmospheric photographic views of the Lake District. The illumination covers different styles from the medieval to the Art Deco. This was clearly a labour of love that remained unfinished - the last illumination is incomplete, petering out into pencilled guidelines, while the last 15 leaves of the album are blank. Nonetheless, Faith Bell's accomplishment is extraordinary, her gilt work being luxuriant, her calligraphy bold and her decoration delicate. Not much is known about Faith Bell, but it seems likely that she was also responsible for the photographs. Recent auction sales of papers and photographs belonging to the John Bell family indicate a daughter, Faith, who was born in the village of Loweswater.