CERVANTES, Miguel de. Don Quixote de la Mancha. Translated from the Spanish of Miguel Cervantes Saavedra. Embellished with Engravings from Pictures painted by Robert Smirke. London, Cadell and Davies, 1818.
Four volumes 8vo. Contemporary full calf, spines with raised bands, decorated and lettered in gilt, boards ruled in gilt, decorated in blind, edges of boards and inner dentelles gilt, all edges gilt; all half-titles present; steel-engraved plates and headpieces, front joints expertly fixed, occasional light spotting, overall a very attractive set from the the library of the British Prime Minister Anthony Eden with his engraved armorial bookplate inside front covers.
First edition with these plates, and newly translated by the artist's daughter Mary Smirke, herself an artist, a well-regarded landscape painter. 'In May 1810, the artist Joseph Farington approached the publishers Thomas Cadell & William Davies with a suggestion from his friend Robert Smirke that a new translation of Miguel de Cervantes' novel Don Quixote be published with illustrations engraved from Smirke's paintings of significant moments in the story. Farington and Smirke had worked together on several of these paintings in the late 1790s and early 1800s, Smirke taking care of the figures, while Farington focused on the landscape, in particular trees, which were his speciality. The publishers approved of the idea and a translation was begun soon after. This was made by Robert Smirke's daughter, Mary Smirke, and Farington reported regularly in his diary on her progress. Smirke worked from previously published translations of the novel, in particular that of Charles Jervas (published 1742), to which she made corrections, often removing extra passages that were not present in Cervantes’s original … Smirke was paid 200 guineas for the project and on 9 April 1818, Farington recorded in his diary that Cadell had approached her shortly before the book went to press to ask if she would approve of her name appearing on the title page. She refused the offer, with her father instead suggesting that it could follow a dedication, perhaps to the Prince Regent, the future George IV. This idea was seen as acceptable, but rather than dedicating the work to the prince, it was instead dedicated to William Lowther, Earl of Lonsdale' (Royal Collection Trust, online). - This cataloguer failed to establish a witticism connecting Anthony Eden and Don Quixote.