London: The Studio, 1919. Quarto (10 1/4 inches tall), original color printed wrappers, glassine wrapper bound with red cord through punched holes. Ink notations, minor chipping and tearing to glassine, corners slightly bumped, color plates clean and bright. A near-fine copy. Item #1515
"GOOD KING WENCES-LAS LOOK'D OUT / ON THE FEAST OF STE-PHEN"
December 1919 supplement to The Studio magazine devoted to Jessie M. King's rendering of John Mason Neale's beloved Christmas Carol—illustrated throughout in full color by the Scottish artist and quite uncommon in the original illustrated wrappers.
A proponent of the romance of liturgical Ritualism, John Mason Neale was a major contributor to the Victorian Catholic Revival in the Church of England. Dr. Neale's "capacity for translating the riches of the ancient and medieval hymnody gave him a significant role in the transformation of Anglican worship and in the communication of the patristic tradition and sacramental doctrine to ordinary congregations" (Geoffrey Rowell). Based on the St. Stephen's Day legend of Duke Vaclav Wratislaw, the medieval patron of Bohemia, Good King Wenceslas first appeared in Carols for Christmas-Tide (1853) with lyrics by Neale and melody by Thomas Helmore. Neale's "skill as a translator of hymns showed itself particularly in his capacity to reproduce the rhythm and metre of the original so that the ancient plainsong melodies could be used for his English versions" (Rowell).
Founded in London in 1893, the Studio ("An Illustrated Magazine of Fine and Applied Art") was at the center of the Arts-and-Crafts movement. The Studio's yearly Christmas supplement was illustrated by Jessie M. King with 13 stunning color plates. Using striking colors and bold lines, Colin White notes that "Jessie's hitherto Art Nouveau style was undergoing a metamorphosis into the strident new Art Deco." The supplement opens with hand-lettered lyrics and sheet music, followed by a title page and 10 plates depicting characters and scenes from the carol. A laid-in sheet of paper informed contemporary readers that the drawings were available for "ten guineas each" and a second issue was printed in 1920. Rowell. The Vision Glorious: Themes and Personalities of the Catholic Revival in Anglicanism. Colin White. A Guide to the Work of Jessie M. King, 117.