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Moby Dick by Herman Melville, Unique Binding/Sculpture by Richard Tuttle



Moby Dick or The Whale by Herman Melville

Illustrated by Rockwell Kent

Unique Full Leather Binding and Presentation Sculpture

First British Edition – Published by Cassell & Company in 1930

FINE Condition

Binding Details:  As with all of Richard Tuttle’s pieces, this is a one of a kind binding that captures the spirit of the book and returns us to a time when books were beautiful to display as well as read. In a world of mediocrity and mass produced books, he believes important literary works are special and should be treasured and passed on to future generations.

As a tribute to Rockwell Kent, Rick Tuttle created an amazing piece of art that houses his unique custom binding of the Rockwell Kent illustrated Moby Dick. The sculpture that houses the book is made of walnut burl and lamb leather over sculpted boards that simulate ocean waves. The book is bound in blue lamb and white goat vellum with the blue leather portion of the leather binding carrying over the wave theme on the front and rear boards. The binding also features leather head and tailcaps as well as hand painted pastedowns and endpapers. Rick Tuttle’s symbol signature appears on the half-title page.

The piece was created in 2015.

Book Details:  This is the first British edition containing Rockwell Kent’s incredible illustrations for Moby Dick published in 1930 by Cassell & Company, London. In 1926, Rockwell Kent was approached by R. R. Donnelley and Sons to illustrate a new edition of Richard Henry Dana's “Two Years Before the Mast”. Kent suggested Moby Dick instead and was given complete freedom to design and illustrate the novel. The resulting work has been hailed as a masterpiece of 20th-century book illustration and credited with reviving public interest in Melville’s masterpiece.

This edition was preceded by the 3 volume Lakeside Press signed limited edition published in the same year. Cassell & Company used the Lakeside Press sheets in the publication of this edition.

Containing 280 Rockwell Kent illustrations, the book measures approximately 7.5” x 5.75” x 2.25” with 822 pages. The sculpture that houses the book measures 12.5” x 7.25”.

Artist Statement:  Included with the book and sculpture is a signed artist statements by Richard Tuttle on the making of “Moby Dick”. 

About the Artist: Richard Tuttle is a painter, writer, graphic designer, carpenter, bookbinder and lover of literature. For the past 20 years, he has combined his many interests to create one of a kind works of art that merge the written word with fine leather, paper, paint, wood and veneer. These original book bindings have been exhibited in numerous galleries and were featured in a PBS documentary on the Chicago Art beat. Richard describes his work as follows:  “I make literary artifacts. They are designed to pull books down off the shelf and display them in the salon, gallery or home as if they were works of art, which, of course, they are. Whether binding books with leather, paper, paint, wood, and found artifacts or building sculptures to encase the volumes, I seek to find a perspective that shouts out a piece of the essence of the literary work. I try to put myself in the author's or character's mind to say something about the time it was written in; the attitude that is explored and expressed; the magic that makes it a work of art. While I obviously respect and admire the books I work on, the humor, wit and raw energy I find so attractive in their works leads me to places that some might call disrespectful, but are, for me, essential parts of these literary works. Motivated by Marcel Duchamp's attempts to elevate the object into art and William Blake's efforts to remake his world and James Joyce's efforts to include all culture and all action in one whole: Motivated by the ongoing conversation of Jazz musicians between its earliest practitioners and its most avante garde practitioners: Motivated by the great world library of "what we are" as extolled by Jorge Luis Borges: Motivated by the desire to live in a world that is conscious of itself and conscious of its ability to create itself: I create these art objects out of books in order be surrounded by a physical environment that reflects the world of ideas I want to live in.”

Condition Report: The binding and sculpture are in FINE condition.

Photographs of the binding and sculpture as well as several of the illustrations contained in the book appear in the photo section of the listing.