Canticum Canticorum Salomonis



Weimar: Cranach Press, 1931.

Number 161 of 200 copies from an edition of 268 copies. Designed by Harry Graf Kessler. Set in Jenson Antiqua type and printed in red and black on Maillol hand-made paper. Tall narrow 8vo. 10.25 X 5.25 ins. 32 pp. + Colophon. Original vellum backed boards and tips with buff paper covers. Gilt spine title. T.E.G., others uncut. 18 wood engraved initials and 11 wood engravings, 7 full page, by Eric Gill. Original dust-jacket and card slipcase with minor soiling. Usual light spotting to fore-edges. Small bookplate of James L. Thielman on front paste-down. A lovely copy of this very important Gill work with the usual scattered foxing. Although Count Kessler has been portrayed as the dominating force behind “Canticum Canticorum Salomonis”, and is credited with its design, recent examination of the correspondence between Kessler and Eric Gill reveals that Gill increasingly began to assert artistic independence in their collaboration and determined many significant aspects of the book’s style. Indeed, Gill guided the selection of text and illustration. “This beautiful rendering of Solomon’s “Song of Songs” was one of the last great works issued by the Cranach Press. The vertical format of this small book contains eleven sensuous wood engravings by Eric Gill, who also designed the eighteen intricate, decorated initials. These engravings are among the most beautiful Gill ever created. There is perfect balance of illustration and text”. (No. 29 in “A Century for the Century – fine printed books from 1900-1999”, Grolier Club, 1999)

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