Book Description

E.W. TRISTRAM’S MONUMENTAL AND AUTHORITATIVE WORK ON ENGLISH TWELFTH-CENTURY WALL PAINTINGS

Quarto (315 x 245mm), pp. xii (half-title, verso blank, title, imprint, ‘Preface’, ‘Contents’, blank, ‘Abbreviations’), 164, [2 (fly-title ‘Plates’)], [2 (fly-title ‘Supplementary Plates’)]. Colour-printed frontispiece, 5 colour-printed plates, 85 monochrome plates, and 15 half-tone ‘Supplementary Plates’. (A few light spots and marks.) Original terracotta buckram, spine lettered in gilt. (Some light marking, extremities slightly rubbed.) A very good copy.

Provenance: Robert Sheldon Bridge (1882-1955; bequeathed to:) – Nottingham High School, Nottingham (‘The Bridge Bequest’ bookplate on upper pastedown; early armorial inkstamps on pp. [v] and 164, ink stamp with manuscript accession number and class mark on verso of title, neat accession number in white on spine; sold on their behalf).
Dealer Notes
First edition. The artist and art historian E.W. Tristram (1882-1952) studied under the arts and crafts architect W.R. Lethaby at the Royal College of Art, where he began to research medieval art in Britain and continental Europe. The study of wall paintings of that period had been neglected in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and Tristram made the recording and interpretation of England’s medieval mural paintings his life’s work: ‘[w]hile a student Tristram had begun making meticulous watercolour copies of medieval wall and panel paintings which were to grow into a very large and important collection, representing almost the only approach to a national records of these art works in Britain’ (ODNB). In 1906 Tristram was appointed to the staff of the Royal College of Art, rising through a series of positions to professor of design in 1925 (on his retirement in 1948 he became professor emeritus). During his career ‘Tristram handled and recorded almost every major and many minor wall paintings throughout the country, as well as a number of monuments’ (op. cit.), and he was the ‘leading expert in his field by the age of forty’. As the pre-eminent specialist on the subject, he was ‘invariably consulted every time a wall painting was discovered in a village church: as M.R. James – with whom Tristram collaborated on the Eton College chapel “frescoes” – put it, “He is, indeed, the Sherlock Holmes or the Dr Thorndyke of the situation”’ (op. cit.).

Tristram had begun to publish on medieval wall paintings in the 1920s, but his ‘greatest works were the monumental volumes [...] entitled English Medieval Wall Painting, covering the twelfth and thirteenth century [...]. The offer elaborate discussions of iconography, technique, and subject matter, with indexes and catalogues, and were almost entirely illustrated by his own copies’ (op. cit.). The present volume was the first to be published, and was followed by the two-volume work English Medieval Wall Painting … The Thirteenth Century. With a Catalogue by E.W. Tristram Compiled in Collaboration with Monica Bardswell (Oxford, 1950) and a posthumous volume, English Wall Painting of the Fourteenth Century ... with a Catalogue by E.W. Tristram Compiled in Collaboration with Monica Bardswell, which was edited by his widow and published in 1955. More than 50 years after his death, the ODNB judged that Tristram’s ‘achievement as the recorder of English wall paintings and the most persistent publicist for their conservation is still unquestioned, and his scholarly publications remain the basis of modern art historical research in his field’.

This copy is from the library of the schoolmaster R.S. Bridge, who was educated at Cheltenham College and Trinity College, Oxford, before embarking on a career as a schoolmaster at Bristol Grammar School as Senior Geography Master and at Nottingham High School as Senior History Master. Bridge, who bequeathed this and a number of other books to Nottingham High School, was also the author of The Geography of Commerce & Industry (London, 1920) and Man and Commerce (London, 1921). One of his former students, the novelist, playwright, and children’s writer Geoffrey Trease recalled Bridge as a teacher whose ‘method was in essence that of a university lecturer’, which ‘made it easy to like history’ (A Whiff of Burnt Boats (London, 1971), p. 47; Trease also dedicated his 1967 book The Grand Tour to the ‘memory of R.S. Bridge’).
Author TRISTRAM, Ernest William
Date 1944
Publisher Oxford: printed by John Johnson, The University Press, Oxford and ‘Prepared with the Assistance of the Courtauld Institute of Art and Published on behalf of The Pilgrim Trust by Humphrey Milford, Oxford University Press’

Price: £125.00

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