ALKEN, Henry Thomas (1785-1851)
The National Sports of Great Britain
London: printed for Thomas M'lean by Howlett & Brimmer, 1825 [plates watermarked 1825]. Royal octavo. (14 1/2 x 10 inches). 50 hand-coloured aquatint plates by I. Clark after Henry Alken.
Contemporary straight grained red morocco, covers elaborately bordered in gilt and blind, spine gilt with wide semi-raised bands, brown endpapers, gilt edges. Modern red chemise and morocco-backed slipcase
Provenance: W. E. P. Burges (bookplate); Fitz Eugene Dixon (bookplate); Charles E. Dunlap (bookplate).
Rare large-paper issue of the royal octavo edition, in the original binding and with esteemed sporting provenance.
The artist Henry Thomas Alken was born into what became a sporting artistic dynasty. He studied under the miniature painter J.T. Barber and exhibited his first picture (a miniature portrait) at the Royal Academy when he was sixteen. From about 1816 onwards he "produced paintings, drawings and engravings of every type of field and other sporting activity. He is best remembered for his hunting prints, many of which he engraved himself until the late 1830s ... To many, sporting art is 'Alken', and to describe his work or ability is quite unnecessary" (Charles Lane British Racing Prints pp.75-76). Despite having the same title as the folio of 1821, this work contains a different series of plates, including six plates of horse racing, ten of fox hunting, six of coursing, twelve of shooting, and two of fishing, together with others of poaching and baiting sports. "Alken himself seems to have drawn in colours and engraved the plates, which like most of his book illustrations are peculiarly pleasing on account of their small size. The preface deals with, and condemns, the prevailing practice of baiting animals, although the three last plates depict various forms of this barbarous sport." (Schwerdt).
Tooley 43; Mellon/Podeschi 121; Schwerdt I, p. 20; Siltzer p. 72.