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Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)
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From a private collection
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

THE SPHINX. 1894

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Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) The Sphinx. 1894 WILDE, Oscar (1854-1900). The Sphinx. London: Elkin Mathews and John Lane. The Ballantyne Press. 1894. Limited edition, one of 25 deluxe large paper copies. Dedicated to his friend the symbolist poet Marcel Schwob (1867-1905), who had worked with Wilde on translating his infamous play Salome, The Sphinx is ‘a fairy tale for adults in Wilde’s most jewelled and extravagant style’ (Collected Poems, p.xxii). Charles Ricketts ‘was requested by Wilde to design this first edition of The Sphinx, and it is the first book over which he exercised complete control of illustration, page, and binding design’ (The Turn of the Century 10). ‘No illustrated book was ever more thoroughly planned […] The result is a perfect whole, as harmonious as it is dazzling’ (Ray, The Illustrator and the book in England 262). Mason 362. Quarto (256 x 187mm). Printed in green, red and black on hand-made paper, illustrations and ornamentation by Charles Ricketts. Original gold-tooled vellum, signed with initials CR (Charles Ricketts) and HL (Henry Leighton, binder), original cloth ties, yapp edges (tiny spot to upper cover); housed in an attractive modern quarter gilt vellum box by Sangorski & Sutcliffe/Zaehnsdorf. Provenance: faint evidence of erased inscriptions to half-title and dedication leaf, the latter being an apocryphal presentation inscription from Wilde to ‘Walter du Bosque’ in 1897) – Emile du Bosque (bookplate) – Parke-Bernet, 10 December 1957, lot 247 (offered as a genuine presentation copy).
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