The Epic of Kings - Stories retold from Firdusi. Retold by Helen Zimmern with prefatory poem by Edmund Gosse. T. Fisher Unwin, London., 1882. First edition. Folio. 339 pages. The decorative binding is an artwork in itself. Full parchment with bevelled edges and elaborate decoration in blue, re, tan and gilt; top edge gilt. Number 130 of 200 copies with the two etchings by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, O.M., R.A. both signed by the artist. $950.
1. "And seeing a water-bird fly upward, he took his bow and shot it through the heart, and it fell among the rose-gatherers "(etching is the frontispiece; text is on pages 45-46);
2. "And they gazed upon eath other and knew that they excelled in beauty; and the hours slipped by in sweet talk while love was fanned in their hearts" (etching opposite page 49; text on page 49). $950.
Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, OM, RA was a Dutch-born, British painter. Born in Dronrijp, the Netherlands, and trained at the Royal Academy of Antwerp, Belgium, he settled in England in 1870 and spent the rest of his life there. A classical-subject painter, he became famous for his depictions of the luxury and decadence of the Roman Empire, with languorous figures set in fabulous marbled interiors or against a backdrop of dazzling blue Mediterranean Sea and sky. Though admired during his lifetime for his draftsmanship and depictions of Classical antiquity, his work fell into disrepute after his death, and only since the 1960s has it been reevaluated for its importance within nineteenth-century English art.
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