London: Sampson, Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington, 1880. First edition. Accompanied by three original illustrations for the work by the highly influential artist Randolph Caldecott, each initialled by him, and printed in the book as “In the Church of Le Folgoet” (p. 80), “Every Dog has his Day” (p. 87), and “A Domestic Scene” (p. 107). Original publisher's cloth binding embossed in gilt and black. All edges brightly gilt. Measuring 250 x 180mm. Bookplates of E.H. Mills and Doris Benz on the front paste-down. A copy in Fine condition, with original signed sepia illustrations for page 80, 87, and 107 by Caldecott laid in. Housed in a custom quarter-leather slipcase with chemise.
Formerly a banker, Caldecott (1846-1886) was launched on his career as an artist with the publication of his work in Henry Blackburn’s (1830-1897) London Society magazine. The two quickly became close friends and would often travel together through Europe while collaborating on illustrated travel books such as Breton Folk. The horse and cattle fairs at Le Folgoet and Carhaix made “an exciting time for Caldecott, both on the road and at the fair; materials for his pencil were everywhere, and for three days there was little rest” (Blackburn).
A contemporary of Kate Greenaway and Walter Crane, Caldecott differed from them by revealing “a nerve of realism and truth in his illustrations. His horses smell, his mud sticks, and while his drawings are appealing and childlike, they are always truthful as to detail... Caldecott's wry, anecdotal humour, combined with his characteristically economical use of line, soon brought him an eager following among publishers and readers” (ODNB). Caldecott was a pioneer of the gift book market and children’s book design, and the artists he inspired includes such celebrated names as Van Gogh, Beatrix Potter, Arthur Rackham, and E. H. Shepard. The Caldecott Foundation, which provides healthcare and education for vulnerable children, is named in his honour. A large selection of Caldecott’s original illustrations for Breton Folk are now held at the V&A. Fine (Item #4850)