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Tennyson in Art

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A first edition of The Moxon Illustrated Edition of Tennyson’s Poems, is now one of the most collectible, valued books in the history of printed book illustration. It includes images designed by some of the most well-known artists of the Victorian age

Intended as a Christmas gift book in 1856, Edward Moxon commissioned the artists to design the illustrations, which were then cut into wood blocks by various engravers.  24 of the designs were produced by established members of the Royal Academy, such as Daniel Maclise, John Horsley and William Mulready.  However 30 were commissioned from the startling Pre-Raphaelites, Rossetti, Hunt and Millais.  Millais had a foot in both camps being an ‘associate’ of the Royal Academy. 

The only known complete set of publisher’s proofs of the engravings are in the Tennyson Research Centre. 

Rossetti was late with his designs. The book missed the Christmas market when its high cost would have been more acceptable, and therefore sold very slowly from February 1857.  The financial consequences are said to have led to Moxon’s early death.

Searching the Lincs to the Past database will provide you with all the works held by these artists and engravers in the Lincolnshire Collections.  The exhibition gives a taste of the variety of approaches and styles employed by artists and engravers. Within one cover are examples of the illustration practices of early, mid and late 19th century.

The Moxon Illustrated Edition of Tennyson’s Poems. 1857.  TRC4203. Poems. London: Moxon, 1857.  22.1cm. Illus., por

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Last updated: 23 February 2011

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