Original Stephen Gooden line engravings.
The complete set of Gooden’s three engravings designed to illustrate The Revelation of St. John the Divine. Very rare.
Outstanding signed proof impressions with crisp clarity and sparkling line.
These three engravings, along with one other companion subject, were designed to illustrate a sumptuous publication of The Revelation of St. John the Divine, which was to be published by George G. Harrap & Co.Ltd.. Gooden began work on the first of his plates in 1938, and these three appear to have been finished by 1939; however, by 1944 the fourth plate (The Destroying Angels) still remained incomplete. The project was abandoned and Gooden's engravings were thought to have remained unpublished; however, the recent discovery of an undated printed slip inserted in a publication by George G. Harrap & Co.Ltd. has shed new light on the history of these plates; it reads:- "During the year 1939, Stephen Gooden, A.R.A., C.B.E., was commissioned to engrave, on copper, illustrations for The Book of Revelation. Three have been completed. In view of present conditions it is unlikely that the project will be carried further. We have therefore been requested by Stephen Gooden to issue the three engravings in folio form, and to offer them for sale in a limited number, namely, fifty sets, each engraving signed by himself. George G. Harrap & Company Limited". No complete folio set of these three engravings has been reported and it is unclear whether the intended edition was printed or whether these engravings, which remain notably rare, were ever published.
The most elaborate of all of Stephen Gooden's engraved illustrations, these three engravings remain by far the most rare of his printed works. Gooden printed only a very few proofs from these plates, just some of which he signed. It is unclear as to whether the folio edition planned by George G. Harrap & Co.Ltd. was ever printed or published. These outstanding proof impressions are some of the finest signed examples which we have seen.
The image of St. John in Patmos shows St.John, kneeling at his writing desk, surrounded by allegorical figures representing aspects of the visions revealed to him by God - visions which he is seen recording in his Book of Revelations.
The Rider on the Pale Horse was engraved in 1939, the year in which the Second World War began. Accordingly, Stephen Gooden has depicted his figure of Death in a specific image of war, surrounded by craters, and set against a sky illuminated by searchlights. Gooden has framed this central engraving with associated images - symbols of Death overcoming all, irrespective of rank.
The Three Horsemen, the rarest of these three plates, shows the three horsemen of the Apocalypse riding across a landscape consumed by fire. This engraving could be considered to be incomplete in the sense that Stephen Gooden originally intended to add associated images in the blank margins above and below the main subject, as in The Rider on the Pale Horse.
All three engravings are printed on cream laid paper with full margins and deckle edges. All are in excellent original condition.