1807 · London
 leaves, 64 pp.
Very pretty contemporary red straight-grain morocco, gilt in the Romantic style, covers with elegant gilt-roll frame, central panel with intricate fan cornerpieces, raised bands, spine attractively gilt, gilt-rolled turn-ins, all edges gilt. WITH AN EXCELLENT FORE-EDGE PAINTING, probably of the city of Chester in Cheshire, showing a river wending through a landscape, a town with a castle and cathedral on one shore, a sailboat on the water, and a woman doing laundry in the foreground.
Extremities very slightly rubbed, a hint of soiling and a few spots on the covers, one page with a short tear in the text (no loss), a few small isolated stains, but A FINE EXAMPLE--clean and bright throughout, in an attractive binding with no significant wear, and with a painting that is very well preserved.
This work contains a lovely and finely detailed fore-edge painting of bucolic harmony, featuring a tranquil river scene and a city nestled comfortably onto distant banks. The day is clear, and in the foreground a woman lays out sheets to dry in the sun; a single boat can be seen in the water, rounding a wide bend in the river near a large estate that overlooks the shore. A smokestack appears along the skyline, located about halfway between the town's two most prominent buildings--almost certainly a castle and cathedral. The topography of our painting strongly suggests that the city depicted here is Chester, situated on the River Dee and once an important trading port. As nearby Liverpool and Manchester gained dominance in shipping and industry beginning in the 18th century, Chester became a haven for the landed aristocracy, who built stately homes like the one seen here. It is possible to recognize in this painting the work of the so-called "Dover Painter," as it shows his distinctive style of applying small dabs of paint; this method is especially effective in producing convincing texture for skies, trees, shrubs, and grass.
"Dover Painter" is the name given by Jeff Weber to the person who painted in the 1920s and '30s, probably for the famous London bookseller Marks & Company. A number of his works found their way into the library of Edward and Estelle Doheny, which was certainly the most outstanding collection to be sold at auction during the 1980s, and which was particularly rich in fore-edge paintings. Because of the inevitable stress incurred by books with fore-edge paintings, it is increasingly difficult to find such volumes in attractive and well-preserved antique bindings like the present one. (Inventory #: ST15796)