April 2015 | Nate Pedersen

Over 100 Unpublished Illustrations to Sir Walter Scott's Novels

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Over 100 original, unpublished illustrations for Sir Walter Scott's novels--by an unknown artist--are heading to the New York Antiquarian Book Fair this week with British bookseller Simon Beattie. Commissioned by noted print collector E. W. Martin sometime in the 1830s, the 108 illustrations are watercolor and gouache paintings on card. 

"They're exquisite," said Beattie about the illustrations. "It's particularly fascinating to see one artist's take on all Scott's novels. The artist was very talented--particularly good at light--the scenes with moonlight or fire are especially fine."

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But who this talented artist was remains a mystery. For his part, E. W. Martin was purposefully, almost boastfully, opaque in his note on the front free endpaper:

"The collection of Drawings was done for me expressly & under my direction. No other exists. There may be a few duplicates of some, as I had such I did not deem sufficiently good, or well portraid to be done again in a somewhat different way and alterations made & when done I selected those I preferred in execution ... The Artist is dead, consequently no more can be had. He died within a few Weeks, after completing the set, from Waverley to Castle Dangerous, 27 Tales in all ..."

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The paintings are on offer from Beattie for $22,500 at the New York Antiquarian Book Fair this weekend.