Original Edward Calvert wood engraving.
Very good impression with beautiful clarity, as first issued in any formal edition for A Memoir of Edward Calvert, Artist; by his Third Son, in 1893.
One of the largest and most expressive of Edward Calvert’s few engraved works, The Cyder Feast dates from Edward Calvert’s most inspired years, soon after the death of William Blake, whose influence was still fresh upon him. This influence stemmed from Calvert’s association with William Blake and Samuel Palmer as one of a group known as ‘The Ancients’. The members of this select gathering had revelled in the ecstatic discovery of an untainted countryside around the village of Shoreham, and it was there that Edward Calvert produced this beautiful and intricate wood engraving.
A wonderful vision of pastoral richness, The Cyder Feast shares the idyllic mood of innocence found in William Blake’s small wood engravings for Dr. Thornton’s Pastorals of Virgil, but is imbued with a spiritual air of a lush and cornucopian nature which is distinct to Edward Calvert’s work. Edward Calvert’s visionary works of this nature are few in number and they combine both Christian and pagan elements. Indeed, these elements are inextricably interwoven in The Cyder Feast, which, despite its essentially pagan imagery, bore the inscription “The gift of God in Christ” in the first state of the block. This inscription was later removed, possibly as Calvert’s ideals became more pagan.
There is a lyrical pleasure to this idyllic vision of abundance, consistent with the perfect Land of Beulah envisaged by Blake – Calvert’s overriding influence. In many ways this engraving reflects more truly the visionary work of Edward Calvert’s Shoreham period amongst The Ancients, than does any of his other printed works, for no other achieved the level of ecstatic rapture and expressive joy found in this wonderful scene. Here, truly, Edward Calvert has achieved his own realisation of Heaven upon Earth.
Edward Calvert was fortunate to have a private income throughout his life which enabled him to lead the life of a dilettante. A severe critic of his own work, Calvert destroyed all impressions that did not please him. Indeed, only a very few proofs were pulled during Edward Calvert’s lifetime, the blocks remaining in his studio until published by his son in this first formal edition in 1893. In the only subsequent printing, thirty impressions were issued in the Carfax Portfolio, printed in 1904. The block of this engraving is now preserved in the British Museum.
This impression is “printed on thick wove paper of brownish tint”, as were all of the wood engravings for the Memoir in 1893 (see Lister p.98). With full margins. Time toned within mat window area, otherwise generally very good original condition.