Days and Hours in a Garden, 1898, Signed “Vellucent” Chivers Binding
Days and Hours in a Garden by E.V.B. (Eleanor V. Boyle)
Published by Elliot Stock, London, 1898
Signed “Vellucent” Binding by Cedric Chivers, Bath
Binding Details: This is a beautiful example of a "vellucent" binding by Cedric Chivers who perfected the technique of using watercolors on transparent vellum. This intricate hand-painted binding features a classic design comprised of an elaborate cover treatment of gilt ruled borders with the front cover featuring a painting of a garden surrounded by purple framing and a mother-of-pearl inlay as well as the title highlighted in a scroll framed by leaves and flowers. The back cover continues the theme with gilt ruling and a watercolor painting containing a Francis Bacon’s comment on gardening that appears on the title page. The spine treatment is likewise decorated with the same motif. There are gilt ruled leather doublures and hand marbled endpapers with the top page ends being gold gilted. Stamped in gold gilt on the bottom of the inside back cover is the Cedric Chivers binder’s stamp. The book is housed in a functional cloth slipcase.
About Chivers Vellucent Bindings: Around 1903, Cedric Chivers of Bath, England developed a remarkable method of decoration for the binding of books, the transparent vellum or “Vellucent” method. The process involved an artist painting on a super-thin surface medium, and a sheet of vellum, shaved to translucent thinness, was laid over it, with the now indivisible pieces bound over boards. For the first time in the history of the bibliopegistic art, the actual work of the artist, undiluted by a translation through the hands of a binding technician, was involved in the decoration of the book. Using the “vellucent method” it was also possible to incorporate further embellishments such as mother-of-pearl and iridescent shell, and the like, all of which may be covered and permanently protected by the vellum. As The Graphic Arts and Crafts Year Book for 1908 wrote, “It is difficult indeed not to become enthusiastic over the idea of the gorgeous aspect of a wealthy booklover’s library of “Vellucent”-bound books, which may become at the same time a cabinet of works of art, each one of his choice and rare volumes bearing an unique specimen of the book decorator’s skill, and embellished with the most varied and brilliant effects.”
Book Details: Originally published in 1884, this is the 1898 edition of Days and Hours in a Garden by E.V.B. (Eleanor V. Boyle) published by Elliot Stock, London. Susan Krinsky in her essay from the Art of the Book wrote, “Eleanor Vere Boyle was a painter and illustrator whose arresting technique was influenced by the pre-Raphaelites. Her best works were simultaneously moody, immensely detailed, and haunting. This is clear in works such as her illustrations for Tennyson’s May Queen, which she illustrated for the poet in 1852 and Carove’s Story Without an End in 1868. It is particularly evident in her illustrations for Fairy Tales by Hans Andersen. This 1872 edition of Andersen is one of the earliest illustrated by an English person. It is certainly one of the most magnificent. She is one of the earliest woman artists to be recognized for her achievements, although she kept a low profile, and rarely exhibited her work publicly. Selling her paintings or illustrations was not considered acceptable, given her family’s social standing, and throughout her life she signed her works, “EVB,” obscuring her identity. EVB was an active artist and writer throughout her long life. In her later years, she primarily wrote and illustrated garden books with Days and Hours in a Garden being the most famous.”
Measuring approximately 6.75” x 4.5” with 210 pages and an author’s preface, the book is illustrated with a frontispiece, several full page illustrations, and numerous in text illustrations.
Condition Report: The binding is in FINE condition with very minimal surface wear. The binding is strong and secure. Internally, the book is generally clean with some mild foxing to the preliminaries as well as the page edges and some sporadic spotting throughout the text. Overall, this is a beautiful Chivers binding that houses one of the most popular works of a critically acclaimed Victorian illustrator.
Photographs of the binding appear in the photo section of the listing.