ORIENTAL CERAMIC ART
1897. Item #90515
[PRANG, Louis]. ORIENTAL CERAMIC ART Illustrated by Examples from the Collection of W. T. Walters. Text by S. W. Bushell, M.D., Physician to H. B. M. Legation, Peking. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1897. From an edition limited to 500 copies (although it is unlikely that more than 200 sets were actually produced), this copy is number 74. Illustrated with a frontispiece portrait of W. T. Walters, 116 full-page chromolithographic plates by Louis Prang, each with a tissue guard with letterpress description, and over 400 black and white illustrations throughout the text. viii,429 pp. Bound in 10 atlas folio volumes (22 1/2 by 17 inches) with illustrated yellow paper-covered boards, with a twisting dragon printed on each cover, backed with yellow silk. Oriental Ceramic Art is said to have be en the most lavish book production in the nineteenth-century in the United States with its 116 full-color images, each requiring anywhere from twenty to fourty-four separate lithographer's stones. But it was money well spent. Louis Prang worked with "a degree of watchful care and untiring energy that were far from commercial" for seven years to produce the plates for this volume. Their beauty and craftsmanship were immediately evident. When some of the plates were shown to French lithographers in Paris, they could not believe that such excellent work was created by simple lithography - the painstaking, multiple application of flat even tints. Prang was justifiably proud of his work for Oriental Ceramic Art and always call it his "Monument." The frontal compositions are deceptively simple and their combination of perfect technique and tonality of color achieve a photographic quality that is still startling. Finely graduated areas of shadow and the frequently seen reflection from an imaginary light source behind the viewer's back enhance the effect. Prang's frequent use of the backlit reflection on many of the ceramics cleverly reinforces the identity of Baltimore engineer, railroad tycoon, and art collector William T. Walters as their collector. It has been said the these images rendered in the reflections upon the glazes of the ceramics are fragments (miniature city-scapes) of the Baltimore skyline framed by the crossbars of the upper-floor windows of Walters' Mount Vernon mansion. This set is in remarkably good condition. Internally it is near fine. The.