Rub - Omar Khayy Circa 1909 - Hodder and Stoughton, London - First Dulac Illustrated Edition, trade issue. A fine example of this large and intricately decorated edition of the Persian poem of life, in the scarce original presentation box, by the renowned 11th century philosopher, poet, mathematician, and astronomer Omar Khayyám, beautifully illustrated with twenty tipped-in colour plates by Edmund Dulac.

Come fill the cup, and in the fire of spring
Your winter garment of repentance fling:
The bird of time has but a little way
To flutter – and the bird is on the wing
  The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám is the title that Edward Fitzgerald gave to his translation of a selection of poems, originally written in Persian and of which there are about a thousand, attributed to Omar Khayyám (1048-1131), a Persian poet, mathematician and astronomer. A Persian ruba'i is a two line stanza with two parts (or hemistechs) per line, hence the word ‘Rubáiyát’ (derived from the Arabic root word for four), meaning ‘quatrains’.

In his autobiography, George Doran, the book's American publisher, noted ‘In point of excellence of art, popularity, distinction and profit, the crowning achievement was the publication of the Fitzgerald version of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám illustrated by Edmund Dulac. The book was a joy and a treasure. Its public acceptance was immediate and great.’

Continuing, Mr. Doran recalled the following amusing incident: "Over the weekend Mr. Hodder had taken occasion to read for the first time Omar's Rubáiyát; also for the first time he had reviewed the art of Edmund Dulac fresh from the exhausting exhilaration of an evangelically active Sabbath, he thrust himself into the office and presence of [Hodder's grandson and the firm's manager]

J.E.H.W. In his shaking hand he held a copy of Dulac's Omar Khayyám
Mr. Hodder: 'Ernest, what is this pagan book you have dared to publish over my imprint?'
J.E.H.W.: 'Why Grandad, that is one of the greatest classics of all time.'
Mr. Hodder: 'Classic or no classic, I will not tolerate the publication of such heathen rubbish.'
J.E.H.W.: 'Grandad, it is beautifully illustrated by one of the very great artists of our day - it is a proud production.
'Mr. Hodder: ' The artist only abets the author, whoever he is, in the production of a purely pagan and disgusting book. I will have none of it.'
J.E.H.W.: 'But, Grandad, we made a profit of £800 on that book in the last twelve months.'
"Mr. Hodder's anger cooled, his indignation evaporated. The matter was settled.”

Edmund Dulac (1882-1923) is remembered as an eminent artist of the ‘Golden Age of Illustration’ that occurred during the early twentieth century. Born in France, Dulac studied law at the University of Toulouse, but later dropped his law studies in order to pursue his career as an artist. After briefly studying art in Paris at the Académie Julian, Dulac moved to London in 1904 where he was commissioned by J.M. Dent to illustrate the collected works of the Bronte sisters. Some of Dulac’s most famously illustrated books include The Arabian Nights, The Rubáiyat of Omar Khayámm, Sinbad and the Sailor, The Sleeping Beauty and Other Fairy Tales from the Old French, The Bells and Other Poems by Edgar Allan Poe, and Stories from Hans Christian Andersen. As Dulac continued illustrating, the influence of Orientalism became more pronounced in his work, infusing his palette with brighter coloration; this style won him praise for its exquisite use of detail and hue. After the First World War Dulac found work as a set designer, as well as designing postage stamps, bookplates, and theatre graphics.

Reference: Reference: Simon Houfe,
British Illustrators and Caricaturists, 290. Ann Hughey, Edmund Dulac - His Book Illustrations: A Bibliography, 21a.

Quarto (book size 28.9x23cm) pp. [122] interspersed with [20] tipped-in colour plates. In publisher’s white buckram cloth, spine and front panel lettered and decorated in gilt, gilt illustrated cream endpapers. Housed in original publisher’s presentation box with intricate illustrations and lettering illustrated to upper panel.
  Condition: Fine in very good presentation box, corners split, paper panels lightly soiled.   Ref: 111197   Price: HK$ 6,000