CRANACH PRESS. MAILLOL, Aristide. VERGIL. ~ The Eclogues of Vergil in the original Latin with an English prose translation by J.H. Mason.
One of 225 copies hand-made paper of the English edition, this no. 71 (there were also German and French editions). 43 woodcuts 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. Folio, original linen backed blue paper covered boards, printed paper label on spine, spare spine label tipped at the end. A very good, bright untrimmed copy, wth only mild fading to the very edges of the boards and slight bumping to the lower corners.
Eric Gill’s own copy with his booklabel on the front pastedown, presumably given to him by Kessler as cut the initial letters for 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 begain 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”.