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Author: Walter Crane

Illustrator: Walter Crane

CRANE, Walter. Bluebeard. [London: George Routledge & Sons (1875)]. 8vo, 8pp. Color pictorial paper wrappers. 8 full-page chromolithographs. Light wear to spine, two small dots at top of front cover, light soiling to rear cover, front cover a tad so, pages lightly aged at edges, some slight internal hand-soiling, else an unusually sharp, bright copy of this delicate book.

First edition, bearing advts on rear for the Routledge’s New Sixpenny Toy Books listing titles only through 1875. This wonderful late-Victorian toybook, illustrated by one of the masters and progenitors of the genre, Walter Crane. It was engraved and printed by Edmund Evans, widely considered the preeminent British wood engraver and color printer of the second half of the nineteenth century and  is one of the last collaborations between these two giants of the field. As stated in Percy Muir’s Victorian Illustrated Books, “under the guidance of Edmund Evans Crane’s early Toy-Books made the first break-through of colour into the cheap book market.” (p.164). Heavily influenced by Crane’s travels in Italy during the early 1870’s, the Renaissance setting and Titianesque gowns of this stunning picture book demonstrate Crane’s tendency to incorporate his latest obsessions into his work while still retaining the characteristic style he had developed over the previous decade of illustrating inexpensive picture books for Routledge. A retelling of one of Perrault’s most sinister fairy tales, this sumptuously illustrated and scarce edition is an important work in the history of color picture books.