Ecclesiastes or, the Preacher handwritten and illuminated by Ben Shahn
New York : Grossman publishers, 1971. Hardcover. Unpaginated ; illustrated ; 31 cm. Price clipped dust jacket with minimal wear. Pages are clean and unmarked. Binding is firm.
handwritten and illustrated by BEN SHAHN
This is a brilliant reproduction of one of the most beautiful deluxe limited editions produced in our time.
Fascinated since early childhood by the wisdom and beauty of the language of The Book of Ecclesiastes, Ben Shahn, the great contemporary artist, embarked upon the task of recreating this biblical masterpiece in pictorial terms. Himself a master calligrapher, Shahn lovingly copied the text by hand, decorated each of the twelve chapter headings from the Hebrew, and embellished the work with eight breathtakingly beautiful watercolors, which are surely among his most profound and deeply felt illustrations. The whole book is a continuous delight.
The result, first published in a strictly limited, hand-colored and signed edition, made publishing history and is today a collector's item.
This volume, destined for a wider public, is a faithful reproduction of the facsimile edition, a fitting tribute to the great artist who died in 1969. It has been produced in Paris by Trianon Press, publishers of the original edition, and no effort has been spared in the multi-color printings to capture the color and values pf the original, as many as twelve colors being used for several of the plates.
Ecclesiastes is part of our spiritual heritage and contains some of the finest and most moving passages in literature. This beautiful version, illustrated by a great contemporary artist, is a timely reminder of its ancient wisdom.
Of the sources which inspired him, Ben Shahn wrote:
My infatuation with this particular part of the Holy Writ probably goes back to my very early childhood when all biblical literature was such a vivid reality in Jewish families . . . When I grew up and was drawing and painting, I became enchanted with the language of Ecclesiastes, re-examined it and felt an overwhelming urge to celebrate its particular way of celebrating the Lord. I did a number of watercolors, often lettering under them such wonderful lines as ' Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?' Remembering and re-reading those lines, I am suddenly struck with a sense of revelation and ask myself whether that may not actually be the reason why I am an artist. (Extract from Ben Shahn's Foreword)
The book has been produced by the Trianon Press, who are the publishers of the now rare Blake facsimiles, which were described in The Times Literary Supplement as follows:—Nothing like these books is ever likely to appear again, and they will in the future be the treasures of libraries . . . The reproduction is beyond praise ... A degree of skill, knowledge and devotion has been brought to bear upon the production of this series that it would be idle to look for again. The same skill, knowledge and devotion are manifested in the reproduction of Ben Shahn's work.
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