New York: D. Appleton, 1897. Limited to 500 (likely less). Hardbound. An extremely fine set of this monumental work (22" x 17"), preserved in the original five woolen, silk and ivory chemises (each cover woven with two characters, Tao Shuo, 'Ceramics Records'), Grouped in pairs within these 5 covers, the books themselves bound with yellow paper, each with a descending dragon painted with green and red, and highlighted with gilt, below the title, 'Oriental Ceramic Art', and above 'Collection of W.T. Walters', followed by the section number (front cover) or a centered squarish image of a elongated vase with ornate surrounding design (rear cover), the spines enforced with yellow silk. viii+429 pp with 116 mounted color plates each with textual tissue guards and 411 text illus. Etched frontispiece portrait. Separate (and much smaller) text volume: S. W. Bushell, Oriental ceramic art, 4to, original red cloth, xiii+1+942 pp. no illustrations (but with a previous owner paper label at base of spine, Top edge gilt). VG++ Ex art museum library set never used. Item #140948
As important as it is in the literature of oriental ceramics (important text by Bushell about Asian Ceramics, focusing primarily on Chinese imperial and export wares), the major importance of this great work is in the field of American chromolithography. It was the greatest test of Prang's skill as a lithographer. Katharine McClinton writes (in The Chromolithographs of Louis Prang); Three artists, including James Callowhill, worked for seven years producing paintings of the porcelains from which the color lithographs were made. Each plate required from twenty to forty-four separate stones." An excerpt from the introduction to this set further exclaims "The plates in color with which this work is illustrated were made by Louis Prang, of Boston. The work of every European house of importance was examined before Mr. Prang was asked to make lithographs of three pieces of porcelain of different colors - his immediate success determined the question, and when two years later some twenty of the plates were shown to French lithographers in Paris, their criticism was that the impressions had been fortified by color from the brush; they could not believe that work of such excellence could be produced by simple lithography. This very satisfactory opinion has been since confirmed by many lithographers, and it is conceded that these plates represent the highest type of work that has been produced in that branch of art." It is unknown how many sets were printed. As with the limited editions of privately published books on jades by Heber Bishop, dated 1906, the majority of Oriental Ceramic Art books were presumably given to major institutions, heads of state and friends of the collector. This set is comprised of ten volumes of bound sheets. The sheets are each individually bound with cloth or silk tape to the bound edge of a short piece of paper, insuring a smooth and luxurious experience when opening the book and passing the pages from right to left. I have also seen this publication issued in ten parts which were comprised of loose sheets inserted into a portfolio of similar cover design as this set. These editions appear to have an orange binding tape along the bound edge of the boards, as well as folding flaps to keep the sheets within the covers.The books record ceramics from the collection of William Thompson Walters (1820-1894) who was a celebrated devotee of art. William Walters was appointed Art Commissioner from the United States to the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1867 and 1878, and to the Vienna exposition in 1873. The text is written by Stephen Wootton Bushell (1844-1908), a physician to the British legation in Beijing whose writings made him one of the most important foreigners in promoting the understanding of Chinese ceramics in the Victorian period. In 1883, he was appointed by the Victoria and Albert Museum to buy Chinese ceramics, and in total Bushell purchased 240 pieces for the museum. In 1889, William Walters commissioned Louis Prang & Co., the foremost practitioners of the art of chromolithography, to reproduce choice examples of Chinese porcelain from his extensive collection. Chromolithography, now called color lithography, is a printmaking technique that uses a separate stone for each layer of color needed to produce the finished print. Prang’s artisans engaged in the painstaking work of recording every detail of Walters’ vases to produce richly colored lithographs that faithfully captured the surface and color of each ceramic piece. The production of the book took nearly sixteen years and brought together some of the nation’s finest artists and craftspeople.The resulting publication, Oriental Ceramic Art by Dr. Stephen W. Bushell, was both a catalog of the collection and a work of art unto itself. When the book was released it immediately set a new standard for both the understanding of East Asian ceramics and for the art collection catalogue. To this day it remains a monument of great importance in the history of chromolithography and documents the foundation of one of America’s greatest collections of Asian porcelain. Taken as a group, the shipping weight on this set will be around 110 pounds. The collation of these ten parts is as follows: Vol.1 has pp. 1-40, Figs. 1-70 and plates 1-10. VOl. 2 has pp. 41-80, figs. 71-113 and plates 11-22. Vol. 3 has pp. 81-120, figs. 114-163 and plates 23-33. Vol. 4 has pp. 121-160, figs. 164-205 and plates 34-44. Vol. 5 has pp. 161-200, figs. 206-263 and plates 45-56. Vol. 6 has pp. 201-240, figs. 264-295 and plates 57-68. Vol. 7 has pp. 241-280, figs. 296-337 and plates 69-80. Vol. 8 has pp. 281-320, figs. 338-375 and plates 81-92. Vol. 9 ha pp. 321-361, figs. 376-398 and plates 93-104. Vol. 10 has pp. 362-429, figs. 399-412 and plates 105-116. All plates have letterpress tissue guards identifying the object in the color plate.