KHAYYÁM, Omar. Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám [IN A FINE BINDING THE ASTRONOMER POET OF PERSIA]
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Translated into English Verse by Edward Fitzgerald. With illustrations photographed from life studies by Adelaide Hanscom and Blanche Cumming. London: George G. Harrap, n.d. (c.1914). Quarto. Titlepage printed in green and black. Unpaginated leaves printed on recto only, each with engraved headpieces and tailpieces. 28 coloured photogravure plates tipped in, with decorative tissue guards. Sumptuously bound in full brown morocco, with peacock feather design to upper cover with onlays of green and blue morocco; spine with similar decorations. Traces of crease to lower corner of frontispiece. Small surface mark to lower board. Top edge gilt, other edges untrimmed. A fine copy.
From the Fourth Version of Edward Fitzgerald's translation printed by Dodge Publishing Company, New York. With 28 full-page tipped-in colour plates of Persian life-studies with tissue guards and 101 quatrains with Persian top and bottom borders printed in black. In late 1903 Adelaide Hanscom began working on a series of photographs to illustrate the text of Fitzgerald's fourth version of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, The concept of illustrating a literary work with fine art photographs was new at that time, and ;The Rubaiyat; was one of the very first American books in this genre. She solicited some then well-known California literary figures, including Charles Keeler, Joaquin Miller, George Sterling and George Wharton James, as models for the project. Hanscom's studio was completely destroyed in the San Francisco earthquake and fire, and with it all of the negatives for The Rubaiyat. That same year Alfred Stieglitz listed Hanscom as an Associate Member of his Photo-Secession. The photogravure process complements the Pictorialist aesthetic with its sftened edges and sepia tones. Hanscom's use of the tondo, or circular form, demonstrates the influence of Renaissance art in her work - J. Paul. Getty Museum.
Edward Fitzgerald (1809-1883), poet and translator, was educated at Bury St. Edmunds and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated in 1830. He has been described by Benson as "a literary recluse of Irish origin, son of a member of Parliament of great wealth and position as a landowner. A great friend of Thackeray, Tennyson, Spedding and Carlyle, he first published his translation in 1859, which is the text reproduced here. Fitzgerald managed to convince Bernard Quaritch to put his imprint on the wrappered volume; finding he could not sell it, Quaritch relegated it to a stall in St. Martin's Lane. It came to the attention of Rosetti and Swinburne who bought them for a penny apiece. Having gone through four editions in the author's lifetime and thousands since his death, its immortality was ensured by its popularity with the public as one of the most quoted poems of all time. Omar Khayyám the eleventh-century mathematician, astronomer and poet was born at Naishapur in Persia (Iran). The political events of that time played a major role in the course of his life. A literal translation of the name Khayyám means tent maker; and this may have been the trade of Ibrahim, his father. Omar studied philosophy at Naishapur and one of his fellow students wrote that he was endowed with sharpness of wit and the highest natural powers. Renowned in his own country for his scientific achievements, in the English-speaking world he is chiefly known for the collection of rubaiyat or quatrains translated by Edward Fitzgerald. Another copy of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám;, affectionately known as the Great Omar;, executed at the renowned craft bookbinding firm of Sangorski and Sutcliffe, took over two years to create. Bound in full green goatskin and boasting 1,000 precious and semi-precious stones and 1,500 separate pieces of leather, it was lost when it went down with the Titanic; in 1912. It now lies at the bottom of the Atlantic in an oak casket. Pogany's artwork appears in full-colour inserted plates and green monochromatic decorative borders, initial letters and decorative devices. A remarkable work in a fine binding.
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