Londres, Thomas Mc Lean, 1823.
Large folio [492 x 332 mm], frontispiece, engraved title, 5 leaves for the titles in English and French, forewords in English and French, and bilingual table, 50 engraved plates, 50 leaves for the English descriptions on the recto and French ones on the verso. Straight-grained dark blue morocco, large decorative gilt and blind-stamped borders, spine ribbed and richly decorated with gilt fleurons, gilt inner border, gilt edges. Contemporary binding.
First edition, second issue dated 1823, of Henry Alken’s most famous work dedicated to hunting and horse racing in England.
The frontispiece bears the date 1820, the engraved title the date 1821 and the two black titles the date 1823. Both issues are equally rare and sought-after, the beauty of the engravings have indeed encouraged amateurs to split the copies in order to remove the engravings. Schwerdt I. 19; Menessier de La Lance I. 14-15; Souhart 10; Benezit I; 116.
The very famous illustration consists of a large engraved title depicting hunts and horses, and 50 large full-page engravings entirely hand-colored sumptuously drawn by Henry Alken, engraved by I. Clark.
Most of these plates are dedicated to hunting (36): 2 plates represent hare coursing, 6 fox hunting, 2 deer hunting, the other ones are on hawking, horse-racing, shooting, fishing, baiting, combats of animals…
The beauty of this set, highly appreciated by amateurs, is noticed by bibliographers. “The Alken was noted for his delicacy of touch and some of his tinted pencil sketches are delightful” Schwerdt.
“Henry Alken was a genius in every respect. His style was admirable and his colouring delightful. He was a first-class sport-man who drew from his own long experience in field and cover and in fact in every branch of sport excepting hawking. His artistic talents alone could scarcely have produced the charm with which his drawings and prints are imbued, if he had not possessed a practical knowledge of horses and hounds going, harness and craftsmanship while a gift for composition and a ready appreciation of a comical situation crown his remarkable qualities.”
The rarity of these complete sets in vivid colors is mentioned by bibliographers.
“ It is unfortunate that Alken’s value as an artist was not fully recognized soon because most of his sets of coloured prints, in brilliant state and in the original wrappers are now « introuvables » .”
A splendid copy of the artist’s most sought-after set, and the only one with the text in French, very rare and preserved in its sumptuous decorated contemporary morocco binding.