illustrator]. MALORY, Sir Thomas. Le Morte D'Arthur: The Birth, Life and
Acts of King Arthur. London: J.M. Dent, 1893-1894. Quarto, original
publisher's cloth with elaborate gilt designs. $4000.
First edition, one of only 1500
copies printed on paper (out of a total edition of 1800).
A lavish and strikingly beautiful
production, Beardsley's edition of Le Morte D'Arthur is one of
the defining works of book illustration, containing, in Beardsley's
distinctive style, 2 photogravure frontispieces, 4 double-page and
16 full-page illustrations, 43 ornamental borders, 288 ornamental
initials, headpieces and in-text decorations. The
publisher's cloth was also based on Beardsley's designs. Le Morte
D'Arthur launched the 21-year-old Beardsley's career, introducing
the world to the sensuous decadent style for which he became
famous. Light wear to bindings and very light occasional toning to
text; an excellent copy.