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Bewick, Thomas
A General History of Quadrupeds.

A General History of Quadrupeds.

Seller ID: 1054

Newcastle-upon Tyne: Thomas Bewick et al., 1824. Eighth edition (index, x, 526) with numerous wood engravings by Bewick. Tall octavo in three-quarter leather and purple pebbled cloth; gilt titles and decoration, five raised bands. Thomas Bewick (1753- 1828), a contemporary of William Blake, confined his work to more ordinary subjects than those addressed by that mystic poet- engraver. The General History of Quadrupeds (1790) and the History of British Birds (1797) are Bewick's most important works, each of which was issued in a number of editions in his lifetime. Quadrupeds was the first important book to be illustrated using wood engravings. A complete description of his work as an engraver, however, comprises two entire volumes (1867- 68). Bewick's Memoir, published by a daughter in 1862, describes 'an early impulse to draw [which] constantly filled the margins of his schoolbooks'. To his 'rustic neighbours [he] became an eminent painter, and the walls of their houses were ornamented with an abundance [of] rude productions.' See also our Thomas Bewick Marginal Drawings & Notes. Bewick's third great work, completed late in life, was an edition of the Fables of Aesop. Bewick (and those who worked for him) produced wood engravings to decorate, illustrate, and enhance all manner of publications-- 'more than eighty small books for children..commissioned by some eighteen printers and booksellers..such titles as The Tale of Tommy Trip, Cinderella, Goody Goosecap, and Jack Dandy, as well as many books of fables and riddles and manuals for spelling and reading' (ODNB). If you look closely at the vignettes here in Quadrupeds (A magnifying glass helps), you will discovery ironic little slices of ordinary life: an exotic animal show traipses dispiritedly down the road to the next country town; a starved sheep nibbles at an old broom. This is the last edition of Quadrupeds issued in Bewick's lifetime and incorporates final changes. A few foxed preliminaries and here and there through the text, but still a clean, delightful copy of Bewick's first important work, one in which the platypus makes an early, if not its first, appearance (described as an 'amphibious animal'). A handsomely bound copy.

Price: $400.00


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