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After Eric Gill (1882-1940)

The Four Gospels 1931

Printed on Batchelor hand-made paper with wood-engraved illustrations | 34.2 x 24.8 x 3.4 cm (book measurement (conservation)) | RCIN 1052088

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  • Bound by Sangorski & Sutcliffe in pigskin over cream buckram.

    This is a particularly striking example of the work of the Private Press Movement, which William Morris brought to prominence at the Kelmscott Press in the 1890s with the aim of raising the standard of printing and book production to the high levels achieved during the incunabula period (1450-1500). The Golden Cockerel Press was set up in 1920 by Harold Midgeley Taylor, and aspiring authors were initially encouraged to set the type of, and to print, their own books. After Taylor's death in 1925, the press was taken over by Robert and Moira Gibbings, whose period of control over the press was the high point in its history. It was during their management of the press that Eric Gill became involved in its artistic life.

    Gill had a conventional artist's training at Chichester Technical and Art School, working afterwards in the ecclesiastical architectural office of William Caröe, and developing his lifelong interest in lettering and its design under the calligrapher Edward Johnston. For the Four Gospels Gill designed both the typeface and the wood-engraved initials, and worked closely with Gibbings to decide the precise layout of the pages and the emphasis of the illustrations. It was intended that the text (using the Authorized King James version) should predominate, despite Gill's striking designs; the letterpress was therefore set up and printed before the woodblocks were cut, so that Gill could use the proofs to size his blocks. They were cut from hardwood, enabling great precision of line and finesse of detail; at the same time Gill was able to interweave the letters and illustrations to a remarkable degree. The initial A here shows an example of this; the side of the letter becomes part of a ladder, and the letter N is used to support a man taking the weight of the body of Christ.

    With 269 pages, and printed in Waltham St Lawrence by Golden Cockerel Press (no. 60 of a limited edition of 500 copies).

    Catalogue entry from Royal Treasures, A Golden Jubilee Celebration, London 2002.

    Bought from John and Edward Bumpus Ltd, London, March 1932

  • Medium and techniques

    Printed on Batchelor hand-made paper with wood-engraved illustrations


    34.2 x 24.8 x 3.4 cm (book measurement (conservation))

  • Alternative title(s)

    The Four Gospels of the Lord Jesus Christ, according to the Authorized version of King James I ; illustrated by Eric Gill.

The income from your ticket contributes directly to The Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity. The aims of The Royal Collection Trust are the care and conservation of the Royal Collection, and the promotion of access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational activities.