[BEARDSLEY, Aubrey.] Le Morte D'Arthur Portfolio. London: J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd., 1927.
4to., original calf-backed vellum boards, upper board elaborately ruled and decorated in gilt with a design by Beardsley; upper edge gilt; numerous initials, head and tail pieces and fourteen designs by Beardsley, including one printed tipped-in image; pp. [vi], 5-45, [v]; boards a little marked and a touch splayed at edges; endpapers lightly offset, and the odd spot of toning to edges; still a superior example.
Limited edition, this an unnumbered copy of 300 on handmade paper printed by Turnbull & Spears, Edinburgh.
The publisher J. M. Dent had planned, at the end of the 19th century, to create a lavish and beautiful illustrated version of Malory's Morte D'Arthur, in a similar vein to Morris's Kelmscott Press books, but using a less expensive printing process. Loathe to pay the elevated fee Morris would have charged for this commission, Dent was persuaded to employ Aubrey Beardsley, who became disillusioned with the project when many images needed to be dramatically reduced for printing.
Contained here are the reproductions of eleven designs omitted from the First Edition of Le Morte D'Arthur illustrated by Beardsley, as well as those made for the covers of the issue in parts and a facsimile print of the merlin drawing. The first edition was published in 1893, with a new edition appearing in 1909. Due to increasing demand, a third edition was issued in 1927, with ten new designs omitted from the first but included in the second, as well as three new drawings never before printed - two for the paper cover of the first edition issued in parts, and an eleventh chapter heading. A facsimile reproduction of the Merlin drawing was also included in a reduced form. This portfolio was created so that possessors of the original large paper edition could own the additional illustrations instead of having to purchase the third edition in its entirety. It is, however, a beatiful tome in its own right, and a lovely addition to any Beardley or Morte D'Arthur collection.
With a foreward by Aymer Vallance and a note on the omitted designs by Rainforth Armitage Walker.