London & Edinburgh: T. N. Foulis, 1919. First Edition. One of 350 specially bound and numbered copies. Publisher's full vellum binding with some mottling and wear. Overall Near Fine with all fifteen of Brangwyn's tipped in illustrations. Housed in a custom quarter morocco slipcase with cloth slipcover. Inscription on the front end paper from Harry D. Sickles to David Zork in 1925. Zork was a well-known Chicago antiques dealer, Sickles is best known for entering into a partnership with Eugene Field II to forge countless documents during the 20s or 30s. Bookplate of Harry H. Schwartz, owner of National Departments Stores. A beautiful production with an interesting provenance.
Fitzgerald attributed the original work to the famed astronomer and mathematician Omar Khayyum, and this collection of quatrains rapidly became a favored text of the Pre-Raphaelites. "Like the Odyssey or the Vita Nuova [it] was once the most widely known and quoted work of Victorian poetry in the world," and its place in Western culture at the time was secured by Fitzgerald's "epigrammatic, sophisticated, often mordant verses [that] display Fitzgerald's adroitness in handling this stanza form" (Warner). Yet with rise of Modernism, the Rubaiyat fell out of style for a time, its lush and romantic orientalism considered out of step with the concerns of those who were living through a devastating World War. But the beautiful surviving copies in exceptional vellum, silk, and leather, alongside recently released critical editions, have helped draw attention back to the Rubaiyat's beauty and its role in inspiring so many monumental pieces of Victorian art and literature. Near Fine (Item #2452)