CRANACH PRESS. MAILLOL, Aristide. VERGIL. ~ Les Eglogues de Virgile. [The Eclogues of Vergil in the original Latin and French translated by Marc Lafarge]
No 42 of 250 copies on hand-made paper of the French edition (the total edition was 292, and there were also English and German editions). 43 woodcut illustrations by Aristide Maillol, head-line of the title page and initial letters cut by Eric Gill with ornament by Maillol. Italic type designed by Edward Johnston and the punches for the main type were cut by Edward Prince, supervised by Emery Walker, based on Jenson type designed in Venice in 1473. Hemp and linen paper made by Gaspard Maillol and known as Maillol-Kessler paper. Printed under the supervision of Count Kessler and J.H. Mason at the Cranach Press. Folio, loose as issued in the original brown printed paper wrappers with image by Maillol printed on the front and housed in the original quarter parchment portfolio with linen edges, lettering printed in sanguine on the upper cover and spine and with the original linen ties. A remarkably fresh and clean copy, the portfolio has some wear, dust soiling and rubbing with some wear to the fold-ins but it has done its job in protecting the book.
The first and as the Press’s historian Brink writes “arguably the greatest book of the Cranach Press”, dedicated by Harry Kessler to “the master of book-printing, the friend and adviser of William Morris, Emery Walker”. The Cranach Eclogues had a long slow birth having been interrupted by the First World War. Most of the designs were done by 1914 and printed began early that year. It was then put on hold during the war, in which the pressman Erich Dressler was killed, and resumed in June 1925. The English edition was printed even later in 1927.
Many see it as the most beautiful book of the Cranach Press, even taking into account the striking Hamlet, and Kessler wrote about deeply moved he was when looking at Maillol’s Eclogues woodcuts “here an art has been created which answers in the affirmative to the world as a whole, and which restores to this world its innocence and its bliss, which is devoted to it in awe and in bliss, and therefore is an art which is religious in the Greek sense”.