2 December 2004
BOMBERG, David (1890-1957). Russian Ballet. London: Hendersons, 1919.
8° (215 x 137mm). Lithographic half-title and title, 6 colour-printed lithographic illustrations with facing lithographic text by and after Bomberg. (Light marginal damp-marking on final leaf.) Original wrappers with lithographic lettering (lightly marked, skilfully-repaired losses to upper and lower cover, small parts of upper wrapper supplied in manuscript facsimile, re-sewn).
FIRST EDITION, ONE OF C. 100 COPIES. BOMBERG'S RARE SERIES OF COLOUR-PRINTED LITHOGRAPHS. Based on pre-war drawings that were inspired by the London performances of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, Bomberg's six images face brief captions which form a narrative accompanying the images: 'Methodic discord startles ...'; 'Insistent snatchings drag fancy from space,'; 'fluttering white hands beat -- compel. Reason concedes.'; 'Impressions crowding collide with movement round us --'; '-- the curtain falls -- the created illusion escapes'; 'The mind clamped fast captures only a fragment, for new illusion'. The volumes were manufactured by Bomberg (who had learnt lithography while apprenticed to the lithographer Paul Fischer in c.1906), and bound into their wrappers by his wife, in an edition of about 100 copies. Following an attempt to sell some of them at a performance of the Ballets Russes (which was swiftly halted by Diaghilev), most of the 100 copies were placed with the Vorticist bookshop and publisher The Bomb Shop Hendersons; 'about ten were sold and then Henderson withdrew them as unsaleable' (Alice Bomberg, quoted in: R. Cork David Bomberg (New Haven and London: 1987), p.126). The work is rare, due to the small size of the edition and the fragility of the volumes; only three copies are recorded at auction by ABPC since 1975. R. Castleman A Century of Artists' Books p.143; Hogben and Watson From Manet to Hockney 46.
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