Folio, pp. 8 (introduction), with 9 full-page plates comprising black and white photographic reproductions of paintings mounted on thick paper with printed descriptions beneath; photographic portrait of Tolstoy mounted on title-page within a coloured border of cascading leaves, text within ornamental border; a fine copy in the original paper boards, with mounted full colour illustration of a peasant scene by the artist Stefan Kolesnikov.
US $1610 €1369
First and only edition of this album of nine black and white reproductions of folk-art paintings by the peasant artist Nikolai Orlov, prefaced by an 8-page introduction by Tolstoy. The realistic portrayal of Russian society, especially of the peasantry, was a cause beloved by Tolstoy, and is a key feature of many of his most famous works, including The Cossacks and Anna Karenina.
Nikolai Orlov (1863-1924) trained at the Moscow School of painting, sculpture and architecture. Most of his works focused on the peasantry, particularly on issues of poverty and social injustice. A friend of Tolstoy, he was a frequent guest at Yasnaya Polyana. The result of these shared views is the present work:
‘The publication of this album of Orlov’s pictures is an excellent thing. Orlov is my favourite artist, and he is my favourite because the subject of his pictures is my favourite subject, the Russian people, the real Russian salt-of-the earth peasant people, not the people who conquered Napoleon and conquered and subdued other peoples, not those people, who, unhappily, have so quickly learnt to make cars, railways, revolutions, and also parliaments… but those humble, hard-working, Christian, meek, patient people, who nurtured and now bear on their shoulders all those who now torment and diligently corrupt them…
‘Orlov and I love the same thing in these people, the meek, patient soul, enlightened by Christianity, which promises so much to those who are able to understand it…’ (extract from Tolstoy’s preface).
The common theme of the series is the temptation the Christian peasant soul has to face and overcome, each picture accompanied by an explanatory gloss. In the preface Tolstoy offers his own commentary, pointing out the touching humanity of the images. Alongside scenes of dying and emigration, perhaps the most moving image is that of the peasant soldier returning home after long service to find his wife has borne a child in his absence. She kneels before him imploring his forgiveness, he is obviously deeply moved but through his Christian faith he is able to forgive her.
You may also be interested in...
ECCLES, Mary, Viscountess, and Gordon TURNBULL, eds..
James Boswell’s Book of Company at Auchinleck.
The Book of Company is much more than a visitor’s book, since Boswell’s comments on the men and women he met and entertained, and the occasions of his doing so, are all his own. It is therefore an important addition to his many-sided self-portrait. Beginning in 1782, two years before Johnson died, and ending five months before Boswell’s own death in May 1795, it reflects Boswell’s anguished uncertainties, as well as the everyday details of where he was, with whom he dined, whom he saw in the evening and – punctually recorded – how many bottles of wine and spirits were dispatched. The book is here reproduced in full facsimile, interleaved with a transcript on facing pages. At the foot of each page is a commentary, largely drawn from Boswell’s correspondence and journals, which converts it into a comprehensive day by day diary of Boswell’s thoughts and actions throughout the period.
HOMERIC HYMN (THE)
to Aphrodite. A New Translation by F. L. Lucas, fellow of King’s College, Cambridge. With ten Engravings by Mark Severin.
First edition, No. 308 of 750 copies. Cockalorum 177.