ALKEN, Henry Thomas (1785-1851). The National Sports of Great Britain. With Descriptions in English and French. A New Edition. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1904.

$ 1,800.00

ALKEN, Henry Thomas (1785-1851). The National Sports of Great Britain. With Descriptions in English and French. A New Edition. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1904.

Folio (18 6/8 x 12 inches). Half-title. Text in English and French. Chromolithographed frontispiece, facsimile 1823 title-page, and 50 colour plates after Alken. Contemporary half red morocco, red cloth, gilt, top edges gilt (extremities scuffed, dulled).

First published in 1821, this facsimile also published in London in 1903. Including descriptions and illustrations "on most of the Sporting subjects, either formerly, or at present, in vogue in Britain, immemorially distinguished and celebrated as the land of Sportsmen" (Preface).

Henry Alken was the dominant sporting artist of the early nineteenth century. He showed an early liking for depicting animals, especially dogs and horses, and his first sporting prints were published in 1813, "and he demonstrated his expertise in the book The Beauties and Defects in the Figure of the Horse Comparatively Delineated (1816). From then on he delivered a long series of designs to the leading sporting printsellers—S. and J. Fuller, Thomas McLean, and Rudolph Ackermann among others. He issued many sets of prints in wrappers and provided illustrations to a series of books, employing the pseudonym Ben Tally Ho for his mildly satirical sallies, and often collaborating with his friend the sporting journalist Charles James Apperley (1779–1843), known as Nimrod. Alken was very well informed about horses and riding, and he appeared to be an insider among the wealthy young set who gathered at Melton Mowbray to hunt and drink and (on at least one occasion literally) paint the town red. His familiarity with sporting lore gave rise to the story (put forward in the Dictionary of National Biography) that he might have been a hunt servant to the duke of Beaufort. Henry maintained a connection with Ipswich, evident in A Cockney's Shooting Season in Suffolk (1822) and The First Steeple-Chase on Record (1839), which recorded a nocturnal romp by cavalry officers stationed at Ipswich in 1803 and became the single most popular set of sporting prints. The Beaufort Hunt (1833) and The Quorn Hunt (1835) were his most distinguished hunting sets. He was also a prolific designer, etcher, and lithographer of scenes relating to racing, shooting, coaching, and other sports, and in 1820 he issued a series entitled National Sports of Great Britain. He wrote several books on aspects of engraving, including The Art and Practice of Engraving (1849)" (Timothy Clayton and Anita McConnell for DNB).