A Remarkably Fine and Very Early Fore-Edge Painting by Miss C.B. Currie
FORE-EDGE PAINTING. MISS C.B. CURRIE, artist. RIVIÈRE & SON, binders. BALL, Catherine aka, BARONESS DE CALABRELLA. Evenings at Haddon Hall, A Series of Romantic Tales of the Olden Time. Edited by The Baronesss De Calabrella. With illustrations from designs by George Cattermole. London: Henry G. Bohn, 1848.
With a very fine fore-edge painting by Miss C.B. Currie showing the dignity and grandeur of Haddon Hall... flanked by towering trees and beautiful greensward. Horses are being led to their stable by a groom and a mounted horseman can be seen in the middle distance talking to two young ladies."
First edition. Octavo (8 5/8 x 5 5/8 inches; 219 x 143 mm.). [viii], -453, [1, blank] pp. Engraved frontispiece, engraved vignette title-page and twenty-four fine engraved plated by George Cattermole.
Bound ca. 1910 by Rivière & Son in full maroon straight-grain morocco, covers elaborately bordered in gilt and blind, spine with five raised bands, elaborately tooled in gilt and blind, and lettered in gilt in compartments. Gilt -ruled board edges, gilt decorated turn-ins, pink endpapers, all edges gilt. A very fine example with the remains of the bookplate of Frederick S. Peck and an old bookseller's descriptions on front paste-down.
Together with a letter of authenticity from Jeff Weber and the original receipted invoice to Randall Moscovitz dated September 5, 2012.
"Painted, based on the binding, the style of painting (consistent with Currie's work) by Miss C.B. Currie [Caroline Billin Curry], though unsigned, and as such this is the only known book without a Currie signature but bears all the signs of having been painted by her. It is on the Rivière binding, it lacks the usual "colophon" leaf seen with nearly all other Currie paintings. Currie painted both fore-edge paintings and Cosway miniatures on ivory, both in bindings commissioned and bound for Sotheran's by Rivière and Son. There are Currie paintings on ivory that are datable to pre-1910 and yet they are not signed. Peck was an active book buyer during this same period (his home and library was built in 1905), raising the likelihood that he bought a Currie fore-edge prior to her signing them." (Jeff Weber).
"The miniature painter "Miss C.B. Currie" (b. December 12, 1849; d. April 2, 1940) was one of the most prominent fore-edge artists in the twentieth century. A master of the art of miniature painting, she excelled as a copyist working for Henry Sotheran Booksellers, London. She became famous for her miniature paintings applied to two art forms. First on ivory, mounted on Rivière bindings and named by her employer as "Cosway" bindings. Later she expanded her work into the art of painting on the fanned edge of a book -- called a fore-edge painting. Most of these paintings were signed and numbered by the artist. Whereas fore-edge painting history is replete with unknown artists, Currie is a notable exception. Even today, many fore-edge artists remain anonymous. In the book world, the name Miss C.B. Currie is widely recognized, yet her personal life and real name remained guarded and unknown until now. It turns out her name was, in fact, partly a pseudonym. Though her work is highly prized, there is no known published biography. Her correct full name was recently discovered to be Caroline Billin Curry. During her entire artistic career Curry used the slightly altered version of her name "Currie". Her true full name is not to be found in any published record of her work from Sotheran's. Her private affairs remain mostly unknown to us, and sadly no portrait photograph is known... The earliest year Currie fore-edge paintings appear in Sotheran catalogues is a 1913 supplemental leaf, and after that not until 1924 (see Currie 20). Since nineteen fore-edge paintings were made prior to 1924 and none of these appear in the Sotheran catalogues available to me from 1910-1923, it is unclear as to when the fore-edge painting effort really began. She may have made a few fore-edge paintings from ca. 1911 to 1914, and then discontinued until after the war. The number 172 was reached by 1931 and it seems unlikely that many more were done after that date..." (Weber. Catalogue Raisonné (2010) p. 273.
Frederick S. Peck (1868-1947), born in Providence Rhode Island, became a Legislator, and lived in Barrington, R.I.
His papers are located at the Rhode Island Historical Society.
Provenance: Frederick S. Peck - Parke-Bernet Galleries, November 14-15, 1944, lot 114; G.J. Guthrie Nicholson, Parke-Bernet Galleries, November 8-9, 1948, lot 231; Jeff Weber Rare Books - sold to Randall Moscovitz, September 5th, 2012.
Weber. Annotated Dictionary of Fore-Edge Painting... see note p.306. (Inventory #: 05156)