the only [?] binding by gustave doré
BRASSEY, Annie, Lady. Sunshine And Storm In The East, or Cruises to Cyprus and Constantinople. London, Longmans, Green & Co.,1880.
8vo. Original pictorial cloth in red, brown and gold, designed and signed in the plate by Gustave Doré, bound by Simson and Renshaw; pp. xx, , 448, wood-engraved vignette on title, with wood-engraved frontispiece, eight wood-engraved plates (all with tissue guards) and over 100 wood-engravings in the text, colour-printed folding maps at either end of the volume; apart from slight restorations to hinges and edges, minimal spotting only here and there (far less than usually encountered) and crinkling to one map, a very good copy of an increasingly rare title, especially in the original publisher's binding.
First edition of an account of a classic private luxury cruise of the Mediterranean with a strong focus on the Levant and illustrations of city- and landscapes, street scenes, as well as regional jewellery, written by one of the most prominent women travellers of the Victorian period, Anna "Annie" Brassey (née Allnutt), Baroness Brassey (1839-1887), who had her household and family on board of the Sunbeam and keenly observed societies and cities, collected artifacts and took photos, a large portion of which are now owned by the Huntington Library.
'Mrs. Brassey has presented us with her magnificent work, called, Sunshine and Storm in the East Mrs. Brassey has, to - use the reviewer's phrase, already "made her mark " in literature; at all events, her Voyage in the Sunbeam, has been read by thousands of people, and has received the kindly notice of most of the critics of the Press, ourselves included. But it would seem that Mrs. Brassey has been moved to rival, if not to surpass, her first success. In what measure she has realised this purpose, we hope to show.
It is impossible, in the first place, to be silent regarding the extraordinary merits of the binding, - of the pictorial design, that is [...] signed by the hand of no less eminent an artist than M. Gustave Doré. Upon a warm, grey background of sea and sky, picked out with black cloud and wave-lines and gold sun-rays, we have a superb scarlet scroll, which is being unrolled at both ends by two groups of fairy-like beings in gossamer attire, who seem partly to float upon the surface of the ocean, partly to hover above it. On the back of the book, in the foreground, is a small vessel, heeling over under the stress of the gale. What does all this mean? Mrs. Brassey, in her preface, is so obliging as to inform us. The nymphs of Ocean, we are told, flattered by the attention already shown them by the Sunbeam, in her voyage round the world, are unfolding before the vessel's path a long scroll, on which are depicted all the kingdoms of the earth, and the glory of them, hoping thereby to induce Mrs. Brassey to continue her triumphal career. It is surely an encouraging sign to see Art applied to such worthy ends as this. We may now look forward to deriving a twofold enjoyment from our libraries. If, for any cause, the interior of a book fails to please us, we have but to close it, and straightaway our eyes will be captivated by the charms of the outside. Our book-shelves must now be arranged upon a new plan, enabling us to see the whole of the bindings of the volumes at once, instead of only the backs, as heretofore. Or perhaps the covers can be so con trived as to come off, and then, by framing them and hanging them on the walls, we shall be decorating our rooms with one hand, so to say, while we instruct our minds with the other. Ultimately, books may come to be bought and sold on the strength of their exteriors only, and literature will assume the position of a vehicle for the dissemination of bindings. But, in short, there is no telling where this novel idea of Mrs. Brassey and of M. Gustave Doré may land us. Meanwhile, they deserve all the credit they are likely to receive for their initiation of so suggestive a reform' eulogized the book reviewer of the Spectator (January 3, 1880, p. 27f.) - and on he went about the merits of the text, illustrations and maps for several long sentences.