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Leda [Limited Edition with Original Illustrations]

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Leda [Limited Edition with Original Illustrations] by HUXLEY, ALDOUS [Richard de Bohun Lovell Smith] (1920)

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Author: HUXLEY, ALDOUS [Richard de Bohun Lovell Smith]
Title: Leda [Limited Edition with Original Extra Illustra
Year: 1920
Publisher: Chatto and Windus
Place: London
Dust Jacket: No
Signed: No
Price: £1850
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Extra-illustrated edition with five full-page original pen and ink drawings by the New Zealand artist, Richard de Bohun Lovell Smith interpreting Huxley’s Leda poem.

Expensively bound in half crushed dark green morocco over light green buckram by the London bindery, Sangorski and Sutcliffe. A little rubbing only to outer hinges; a very attractive binding. Light offsetting to the handmade paper flyleaves from the green leather turn-ins. Huxley has signed the limitation page in blue ink, copy number 57. Internally a fine copy with the frontispiece after Michelangelo: [8] pp 80; Frontispiece & 5 inserted original illustrations.

Lovell Smith’s five pen and ink drawings (22x17cm) each have a tissue guard. The first ‘When Leda with her maidens the shore Of bright Eurotas came...’ precedes the Leda poem on page 1, showing naked nymphs dancing in a glade, pen and ink with highlighting in grey and white gouache. The pictures are framed in a large cartouche, each signed by ‘R de B Lovell Smith 1949’, bottom right. Zeus is pictured opposite page 8; the half naked Leda ‘On Tyrian silk’ with cherubic assistance follows; then Zeus in the guise of a swan approaches the bathing, fully naked Leda at page 16 and finally at the end of the 20 page poem, the moment of consummation between Leda and the swan ‘One lifted arm bent o’er her brow, she lay/ With limbs relaxed, scarce breathing deathly still’, a small circular temple glimpsed behind the swan’s protective wing.

Richard de Bohun Lovell Smith (1924-2005) was born in Christchurch, New Zealand where he exhibited his art extensively. He was the son of Rata Lovell Smith an acclaimed member of the Canterbury School of artists. Richard de B Lovell Smith completed these illustrations in his twenties, possibly during his association with Canterbury University College for whom he designed Drama Society programmes now held in the New Zealand National Library.

The story of Leda and Swan has inspired innumerable visual interpretations, its popularity in part explained by the paradox that it was considered more acceptable to depict a woman in the act of copulation with a swan than with a man. Both Michelangelo and Leonardo essayed the subject - Michelangelo’s version appears as the frontispiece of this edition. Interest in the subject continues to this day with a 1962 interpretations by Cy Twombly resolding for $52,000,000. Lovell Smith’s illustrations add another perspective to this multi-layered story.
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