Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Here be dragons ... and resplendent illustrations for lovers of Arthurian legends

These heraldic creatures adorn the title page of an astonishing illuminated version of Tennyson's Morte d'Arthur, lovingly and lavishly illustrated by one Alberto Sangorski in 1912. I found the whole thing—scanned courtesy of the University of Toronto—very affecting.
(A side note: One of Sangorski's other creations was a unique, jewel-bound version of Omar Khayyám’s Rubáiyát [now referred to as ‘the Great Omar’], which never reached the American collector who commissioned it. Why? Because it was transported on the Titanic, also in 1912. Waah!) 

King Arthur and Guinevere's bones discovered? The "Medieval Murderers" present the evidence.


  1. These are absolutely gorgeous! And if I could, I'd give the person (or people) who scanned every page a big hug!

  2. That's a real shame about the illustrated Omar Khayyam. I have a really gorgeous copy of the Rubaiyat with an embossed cover and stunning illustrations, which I found for about five bucks in a used bookstore. One of my prized possessions :)

  3. Obligatory caption for the Sir Bevidere in the boat photo:

    "I knew I should have brought a fishing rod." *stab, stab, stab*

  4. I appreciate Anonymous's affection for a beautiful book--they are truly precious, (e-books be damned.)
    King Arthur's bones, like the truth, are out there, I am sure, to be found when the world is ready for them.
    "Rex quondam, rexque futurus"--not that the man will return, but that the spirit of Camelot, the willingness to champion the cause of the weak, the reliance upon virtue in order to succeed at a labor, should prevail over the cynicism and expedience that marks the modern world.

    1. I'm up to all hours reading about the Great Omar. Alberto's work was lavishly bound by Francis Sangorski (of Sangorski and Sutcliffe). Alberto left the firm because he was not allowed to sign his work. The book was sent to America after a series of delays put it on the Titanic. Francis, heartbroken over the loss, drowned as well, six weeks later.
      A second copy was made by the firm, kept in a bank vault for safekeeping.
      The safe, and its contents, were destroyed in the London blitz.
      Someone compared the book to the Hope diamond--priceless and cursed.

    2. wondrous and doomed ... what a story~ Thanks so much for your gloss!