Original Stephen Gooden line engraving.
Exceptionally fine signed proof impression in the penultimate state of the plate, with the image completed, but prior to the engraved title.
A superb example of one of Stephen Gooden's most famous engravings; a notably fine impression with outstanding tonal range. This original engraving was designed as a full page illustration for the 1931 Heinemann edition of The Fables of Jean de la Fontaine – this is a rare independent proof impression, prior to title and before the plate was steel faced to produce the published book edition. Only 15 such proofs were printed from each plate before the engraved title was added.
It is upon the remarkable series engraved illustrations for The Fables of Jean de la Fontaine that Stephen Gooden's fame as an illustrator now rests. Over a period of three years, from 1929 to 1931, Gooden produced twelve full page illustrations, two title pages, and twelve vignettes or tailpieces, for this remarkable publication - one of the finest illustrated books of the period.
The preparatory sketch for this engraving is in the permanent collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London (no.E.630-1953)
Juno was regarded as queen of the gods in Roman mythology and the peacock was her favourite bird. In Aesop's fable the peacock comes to Juno to complain that he had not been given the ability to sing like the nightingale. Juno advises him that he is far superior in beauty due to the jewelled colours of his feathers and to be content with the gift that was assigned to him rather than to strive for something not gifted to him lest his expectations be met with disappointment.
On cream wove paper with full margins. Very fine original condition. Image surface excellent.