Fables by John Gay with a Life of the Author, and embellished with Seventy Plates, Vol. I
. John Stockdale . London
PR3473.F3 1793c (Carlson Fable Collection, BIC bldg)
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Ah, I have made my way back to a Stockdale 1793 edition of Gay's fables! Bodemann 110.10, Fabula Docet #99. I had worked earlier with the Rivington imitation of the same year (Hobbs #24), and it is a pleasure now to see the original. The combination of good paper and excellent printing gives these engravings a three-dimensional quality, experienced especially when they are viewed through a magnifying glass. Enjoy, e.g., the dimensionality of Skelton's work in The Spaniel and the Cameleon (II) and The Shepherd's Dog and the Wolf (XVII). Critics agree that Blake is the most adventuresome in distancing his work from that of Gay's earliest illustrators Kent, Wootton, and Gravelot. For example, his engraving for The Tame Stag (XIII) is active and catches the attack as it is going on. The Miser and Plutus (VI, engraved by Blake) is exceptional. The Elephant and the Book-Seller (X) by Wilson is visually funny immediately. The Goat Without a Beard (XXII) by Blake is delightful. There is a tear in the middle of the illustration for The Old Woman and Her Cats )XXIII). Another strong Blake effort is The Setting Dog and the Partridge (XXX). Each of the engravings is signed by one of the nine engravers listed by Bodemann.