Critical Description of the Procession of Chaucer’s Pilgrims to Canterbury,…

CAREY, William Paulet (1759-1839).

Critical Description of the Procession of Chaucer’s Pilgrims to Canterbury, painted by Thomas Stothard, Esq. R.A. Respectfully addressed, by permission, to John Leigh Philips, Esq. By William Carey. 1808.

First Edition. 12mo, (153 x 93mm), pp. 77, [3] advertisements; in contemporary tree calf, plain flat spine with remnants of gilt ruling, extremities slightly worn.

First edition of this account of Stothard’s paintings of Chaucer’s Canterbury pilgrims by the eccentric critic and art dealer William Carey, brother of the Philadelphia bookseller Mathew Carey. The project of a picture of Chaucer’s pilgrims had first been suggested by William Blake, but the publisher Robert Cromek was put off by the severity of Blake’s style and commissioned Stothard instead. ‘It is but justice to note’, writes Carey in defence of Cromek, ‘that we are indebted to Mr. Cromek for the first intention of employing Mr. Stothard to paint the picture of the Procession of Chaucer’s Pilgrims. The same spirit conceived the idea of employing that extraordinary artist, Blake, to compose his grand designs for Blair’s Grave’ (footnote, pp. 10-11). Three pages of advertisements follow the work, including a page and a half dedicated to Blake’s illustrations of Blair: ‘A few copies remain unsold, printed on a large elephant quarto paper, with Proof Impressions of the plates on French paper’.

Bentley, Blake Books, 1338.

Keywords: Art
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