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Annals of the Artists of Spain ... [With:] Talbotype Illustrations to the Annals of the Artists of Spain
London: John Ollivier, 1848 [vols I-III] - 1847 [vol. IV, but 1848]. 4 volumes, large 8vo. (10 3/4 x 7 1/8 inches). [Vols. I-III:] Text ruled in red throughout. Letterpress title pages printed in red and black (with a duplicate title in vol. 3), color lithographed additional title pages (with an additional unnumbered title in vol. 3), 14 plates (including 12 mounted India paper proofs), numerous text illustrations. [Vol. IV:] Interleaved with blanks throughout, mounted Talbotype title, mounted Talbotype dedication, 66 mounted Talbotype photographs (on 62 leaves, one double-page), all by Nicolaas Henneman. Contemporary full red morocco by F. Bedford, covers elaborately gilt with the arms of Spain on the upper covers and Stirling's monogram on the lower covers, spines with raised bands in six compartments, lettered in the second and third, the others with a repeat decoration in gilt, marbled endpapers, g.e. An incunable of 19th century photography: one of 25 large-paper presentation copies of Stirling's groundbreaking study of Spanish art illustrated with photographs by Henry Fox Talbot's assistant. One of the earliest and rarest of all photographically illustrated books and the first photographically illustrated book on art. "The existence of this fourth volume of Talbotypes has enabled the Annals of the Artists of Spain to be hailed as the first art history book to be illustrated with photographs ... this volume marked the beginning of a revolution in the methodology of art history, in which photographs and photographically illustrated books would become essential tools" (Macartney). In the mid-19th century, Spanish art was not well studied or appreciated outside of Spain. On a Grand Tour journey to Spain and the Middle East in the early 1840s, however, Stirling was greatly influenced by the art of the region and began collecting in earnest. Upon return to England, and seeing a very slender body of English work on the subject, he conceived the present work. After a draft of the work was rejected by publisher William Murray in 1845, Stirling decided to privately-print this groundbreaking history which introduced the artists El Greco, Velazquez, Murillo, Ribera and Goya to much of the English speaking world. Of the text, Stirling would print 750 regular copies (of which 25 were specially bound), and 25 large-paper copies (like the present), described in the limitation: "with red marginal lines, proof impressions of the plates on India paper, and two extra plates." To these large-paper, presentation copies, a fourth volume was added, containing 66 illustrations reproducing examples of Spanish art using "the beautiful photographic process invented by Mr. Fox Talbot" (vol. IV Preface). The photographs in the fourth volume are by Nicolaas Henneman, William Fox Talbot's assistant, who is described by Stirling as "the intelligent agent of the inventor" (vol. IV Preface). It is unclear what prompted Stirling to illustrate the presentation copies using the new art of photography. On his initial tour in Spain, like many of the tourists from that period, he brought with him a camera lucinda. His interest in photography was no doubt further advanced by the publication of Talbot's Pencil of Nature (1844-46) and Sun Pictures of Scotland (1845), both of which had avid following among the Scottish elite. Macartney further suggests that Stirling would have realized the duality between the exact reproductive nature of photography and the defining realism portrayed in Spanish art relative to Italian art. Nevertheless, using photography to illustrate these Spanish masterpieces was not without considerable difficulty. Indeed, the art selected to be photographed was greatly limited by size and the necessity of bringing the art outside into the sunlight to be photographed. Early on, Stirling also realized the delicate nature of Talbotypes, writing to a bookdealer in 1856 - just eight years after publication - that a client not rebind the photographs into the text of the Annals (i.e. instead of their being in a separate volume, as intended), writing, "He is lucky if his set is not fading, or faded; wh. I fear all have, is further increased, according to some people's opinion, if the plates are faced by paper of some particular quality..." (quoted in Macartney). Many of the extant copies of the photographs show considerable retouching; the present set without these crude repairs. The experimental nature of this incunable of photography is further evidenced by the strict limitation of copies printed. The large-paper issue was limited to only 25 sets. However, from Henneman's records which have survived, 50 sets of the photographs were printed. Macartney suggests that these 25 additional sets were printed and mounted on smaller sheets to accompany the 25 "specially bound" sets of the regular issue text; another possibility is that they could have been printed to supply replacement photographs to the presentation copies. Either way, it stands to reason, that the best prints were selected for the deluxe, large-paper presentation issue. "Because of its method of illustration [Stirling's Annals] is to be regarded as the cornerstone of all modern artistic connoisseurship, for it contained the first exactly repeatable pictorial statements about works of art which could be accepted as visual evidence about things other than mere iconography. It was no longer necessary to put faith in the accuracy of the observation and skill of the draughtsmen and the engravers. These reports were not only impersonal but they reached down into the personality of the artists who made the objects that were reproduced" (Ivins). The four-volume, deluxe, large-paper, presentation issue with the photographs is exceedingly rare. Of the 25 copies which were printed, Macartney estimates that only 16 are extant (including examples in the British Library, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Hispanic Society of America, Museo del Prado, and the National Library of Scotland). The present copy, in a glorious binding by Bedford, is inscribed by Stirling to noted solicitor and Writer to the Signet John Dundas, who was a relative of the Stirling family, and a close associate and neighbor of the author's father. Truthful Lens 157; Gernsheim 9; Macartney, H. "William Stirling and the Talbotype Volume of the Annals of the Artists of Spain" History of Photography, 30 (4). pp. 291-308; Ivins, Prints and Visual Communication, p. 124; Encyclopedia of Nineteenth Century Photography, vol. 1, pp. 648- 650.
      [Bookseller: Donald Heald Rare Books]
Last Found On: 2013-07-20           Check availability:      Biblio    

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