More ‘Daphnis and Chloe’, Two Rare Editions, Illustrations by John Austen and Aristide Maillol

{Ed. Note: In response to the recent Books and Vines article on the outstanding 1934 Limited Editions Club edition of  ‘Daphnis and ChloeBooks and Vines contributor Dlphcorcl sent me some comments and pictures of two other rare editions of Daphnis and Chloe. So while Longus is fresh in your mind, here they are!}

The ancient Greek tale of Daphnis and Chloe is firmly ensconced in the pantheon of Private Press Royalty – a work of literature that has repeatedly captured the imagination of private presses and artists resulting in a surprising number of private press editions of this work. The following two private press books illustrate how the same work can elicit decidedly different reactions and treatments from great artists and illustrators.

1. Daphnis and Chloe with decorations by John Austen, Geoffrey Bles, London, 1925. Folio-sized book (12 3/4 x 10 1/2 inches), 199 pages, colored frontispiece, eleven colored tipped-in plates, four black & white illustrations by John Austen. White vellum with gilt lettering, pale blue cloth over boards binding, top edge gilt. Special edition 1 of 100 copies on large hand-made paper (no. 52 of 100) with colophon handwritten and signed by John Austen.

Readers of Books and Vines should be quite familiar with John Austen’s work. He was the illustrator for numerous George Macy Limited Editions Club books, several of which have been featured and reviewed on Books and Vines, namely: The Adventures of Gil Blas of Santillane, The Faerie Queen, The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, and Vanity Fair. However, his best and most interesting work as a book illustrator occurred earlier in his career in the early 1920’s an example of which can be seen on Books and Vines in the review of The Adventures of Harlequin. Austen’s illustrations for this edition of Daphnis and Chloe are from this time span and they have the Aubrey Beardsley influence characteristic of his best work. These illustrations have a Beardsley-esque edginess and overt eroticism and in some ways they also have an au courant Art Deco feel entirely in keeping with the Roaring ’20’s. The full color plates are carefully reproduced and tipped-in onto a pale blue-gray hand made paper. Here are some pictures of this excellent work:

Daphnis and Chloe, Geoffrey Bles, Custom Slipcase
Daphnis and Chloe, Geoffrey Bles, Custom Slipcase
Daphnis and Chloe, Geoffrey Bles, Vellum Spine
Daphnis and Chloe, Geoffrey Bles, Vellum Spine
Daphnis and Chloe, Geoffrey Bles,  Front binding - vellum with cloth over boards
Daphnis and Chloe, Geoffrey Bles, Front binding – vellum with cloth over boards
Daphnis and Chloe, Geoffrey Bles,  Handwritten and signed by John Austen
Daphnis and Chloe, Geoffrey Bles, Handwritten and signed by John Austen
Daphnis and Chloe, Geoffrey Bles, Title Page
Daphnis and Chloe, Geoffrey Bles, Title Page
Daphnis and Chloe, Geoffrey Bles, Frontispiece
Daphnis and Chloe, Geoffrey Bles, Frontispiece
Daphnis and Chloe, Geoffrey Bles, Title Page
Daphnis and Chloe, Geoffrey Bles, Title Page to First Book
Daphnis and Chloe, Geoffrey Bles, Sample Text #1
Daphnis and Chloe, Geoffrey Bles, Sample Text #1
Daphnis and Chloe, Geoffrey Bles, Sample Illustration #2
Daphnis and Chloe, Geoffrey Bles, Sample Illustration #1
Daphnis and Chloe, Geoffrey Bles, Title Page to Second Book
Daphnis and Chloe, Geoffrey Bles, Title Page to Second Book
Daphnis and Chloe, Geoffrey Bles, Sample Illustration #7
Daphnis and Chloe, Geoffrey Bles, Sample Illustration #2
Daphnis and Chloe, Geoffrey Bles, Final page with printer’s colophon
Daphnis and Chloe, Geoffrey Bles, Final page with printer’s colophon

2. Daphnis and Chloe, publisher Philippe Gonin (Paris) for A. Zwemmer, London, 1937. Full vellum binding with gilt lettering. Printed on hand-press (Gonin) on hand-made paper manufactured by an old process rediscovered by Maillol’s son, Gaspard. With 52 woodcuts and 4 illustrated initials printed in bistre by Aristide Maillol. First English edition, number 3 of 250 copies.

Aristide Maillol (1861-1944) was a renowned French sculptor whose work emphasized classical lines, a graceful figurative style with rounded contours, shapes and forms. His work was a precursor to Henry Moore’s later, more abstracted work. His drawings, wood-engravings, and sculpture emphasize a relaxed, serene appearance with ties to Grecian antiquity. Although best known for his sculpture, he was also a gifted book illustrator, something he took quite seriously. His best work in this oeuvre was with publisher Philippe Gonin of Paris. In addition to this work, he also created original woodcuts for Gonin editions of the Odes of Horace and the Georgics of Virgil. His woodcuts for Daphnis and Chloe form an interesting and obvious contrast to John Austen’s work. His figures and scenes are bucolic, rooted in nature and the eroticism of Austen’s illustrations of Daphnis and Chloe is replaced by a sweetness, innocence and naiveté. Maillol’s woodcuts are, in this regard, similar in look and feel to the wonderful illustrations seen in Ruth Reeves’ illustrations in the LEC edition. However, note that Maillol is true to his roots as a sculptor. His illustrations are less busy than Reeves’ and there is an economy of line in his work. His illustrations are far less busy, more direct than Reeves’ illustrations, yet equally or more expressive. Here are some pictures of this excellent work:

Daphnis and Chloe, Philippe Gonin for A. Zwemmer, Slipcase and Book
Daphnis and Chloe, Philippe Gonin for A. Zwemmer, Slipcase and Book
Daphnis and Chloe, Philippe Gonin for A. Zwemmer, Book in Slipcase
Daphnis and Chloe, Philippe Gonin for A. Zwemmer, Book in Slipcase
Daphnis and Chloe, Philippe Gonin for A. Zwemmer, Spine and Covers
Daphnis and Chloe, Philippe Gonin for A. Zwemmer, Spine and Covers
Daphnis and Chloe, Philippe Gonin for A. Zwemmer, Title Page
Daphnis and Chloe, Philippe Gonin for A. Zwemmer, Title Page
Daphnis and Chloe, Philippe Gonin for A. Zwemmer, Colophon
Daphnis and Chloe, Philippe Gonin for A. Zwemmer, Colophon
Daphnis and Chloe, Philippe Gonin for A. Zwemmer, Sample Text #1 (Translator)
Daphnis and Chloe, Philippe Gonin for A. Zwemmer, Sample Text #1 (Translator)
Daphnis and Chloe, Philippe Gonin for A. Zwemmer, Sample Text #2
Daphnis and Chloe, Philippe Gonin for A. Zwemmer, Sample Text #2
Daphnis and Chloe, Philippe Gonin for A. Zwemmer, Sample Illustration #1
Daphnis and Chloe, Philippe Gonin for A. Zwemmer, Sample Illustration #1
Daphnis and Chloe, Philippe Gonin for A. Zwemmer, Sample Illustration #4
Daphnis and Chloe, Philippe Gonin for A. Zwemmer, Sample Illustration #2
Rear colophon signed by Aristide Maillol
Daphnis and Chloe, Philippe Gonin for A. Zwemmer, Rear colophon signed by Aristide Maillol

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