Cloth binding with gilt patterns.

Aubrey Beardsley.

1894 [1909]

A cloth binding with decorative blocking in gilt.

10 x 8 inches

This is a later imprint of a Beardsley cover design that was first published in serial form, 1893–4. Perhaps the most elegant of his bindings, this gilt arrangement is a sophisticated treatment of the organic forms of Art Nouveau. Purely ornamental – and suggesting little of Malory’s poem – it exists as a lyrical assertion of Beauty, embodying the late-Victorian aesthetic of art-for-art’s-sake and the value of a sort of hermetic perfection. The most highly prized of Beardsley’s book-designs, the first edition is extremely rare.

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Photograph and text by Simon Cooke

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