14 December 2000
[MORGAN, J. Pierpont, Collection.] WILLIAMSON, G.C., compiler. Catalogue of the Collection of Miniatures. London: Privately Printed at the Chiswick Press, 1906-08.
4 volumes, 2o (372 x 260 mm). Half-titles, title-pages printed in red and black. 268 numbered aquatint photogravure plates (numbered 1-264, with four "a" numbers), of which 129 printed in two states, uncolored and COLORED AND ILLUMINATED, many of the latter with delicate hand-painted decorated borders; facsimile of the sale catalogue of the cabinet of Jean B. Jacques Austin tipped to guard at end of vol. IV. Original green crushed levant morocco gilt, cover with two single-fillet borders, decorative gilt corner-pieces, spines gilt-lettered and -decorated; green morocco doublures gilt; watered-silk linings; edges gilt (spines slightly toned); board slipcases.
Provenance: Joseph Widener (leather booklabels and annotation in pencil on title-page of vol. 1: "Gift of Joseph E. Widener 11/11/43").
LIMITED EDITION, number 5 of 40 printed on Japanese vellum for private circulation only. A lavishly produced catalogue of the 802 portrait miniatures in Pierpont Morgan's collection. Williamson writes in his introduction: "The Pierpont Morgan collection of miniatures must not be regarded solely as a series of beautiful objects, brought together by a collector whose means have enabled him to gratify his tastes to the fullest extent. It includes, indeed, some of the finest extant works by the rarest of the early masters... These characteristics will be apparent to the most casual observer, they lie upon the surface; but the importance of the Pierpont Morgan collection is far greater than they alone would confer. As an historical series it will take the highest position." Indeed, Morgan's passion for buying the highest quality and rarity is reflected in the suberb production of the plates which here reproduce the collection. The color plates especially highlight the great delicacy and quality of his miniatures. This set has an important association provenance, as it was owned by Joseph E. Widener, another dedicated American collector of fine art and books. A VERY FINE SET. (4)
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