London: Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans, & Roberts, 1857. Third edition. Two volumes. Octavo (8 1/4 inches tall), contemporary gilt vellum, watered silk endpapers, ribbon markers, all edges gilt. Bookplates, bookseller's ticket, gilt bindings bright and sharp. A near-fine set. Item #1135
"A GROWING PASSION FOR THE WORKS OF ART OF THE MIDDLE AGES"
Third edition of Anna Brownell Jameson's Sacred and Legendary Art of the Church—two illustrated volumes custom-bound in Florence in Victorian full gilt vellum.
Estranged from her husband, Anna Brownell Jameson travelled to Italy with her niece (and subsequent biographer) in 1842 where she was inspired to begin the work on which her reputation rests. First published in 1848, the book consisted of Volume I. Legends of the Angels and Archangels, The Evangelists, The Apostles, The Doctors of the Church, and St. Mary Magdalene, as Represented in the Fine Arts, and Volume II. Legends of the Patron Saints and Virgin Patronesses, The Greek and Latin Martyrs, The Early Bishops, The Hermits and the Warrior Saints of Christendom. Beautifully illustrated throughout with tissue-guarded frontispieces: "The Assumption of the Magdalena," after Giulio Romano (Volume I) and "The Five Virgin Martyrs" (Volume II) and dozens of full-page steel-engravings and woodcuts in the text, including multiple images of numerous individual saints.
Known to the public as "Mrs. Jameson," the Anglo-Irish art historian was one of the Victorian era's most successful women authors, fostering an appreciation of Medieval Art previously reserved only for Classical Art: "Of late years, with a growing passion for the works of Art of the Middle Ages, there has arisen among us a desire to comprehend the state of feeling which produced them, and the legends and traditions on which they are founded." Despite being disparaged by some contemporaries (most notably by John Ruskin), her books were broadly popular and reprinted regularly well into the twentieth century. This third edition includes Jameson's original preface as well as a brief Preface to the Third Edition (dated, "A.J. / January 1857"). "The third edition of volumes I and II, published in 1857, bore a shortened title, and Sacred and Legendary Art became not only the authorized title of these first two volumes but, unofficially, the title of the entire series in its subsequent editions" (Clara Thomas, Anna Jameson: Art Historian and Critic). The series eventually grew to six volumes: Legends of the Monastic Orders (1850) and Legends of the Madonna (1852) were followed after Jameson's death in 1860 by The History of Our Lord (1864, two volumes). Bookseller's ticket of "Edward Goodman / Printseller / Florence / English Stationery." A handsome set of an important edition of a popular work in fine Victorian bindings.