The mark of a great piece of literature is that you can read it again and again, picking up new insights or simply admiring the craftsmanship of the wordsmith. There have, however, been a few publishers who managed to make a good thing even better by cleverly and creatively pairing up the world’s best authors with the best painters, artists and illustrators. The Limited Editions Club and the Folio Society have both cleverly used artists and illustrators to produce enticing new editions of classic literature.
Reading the stories of Joyce and Shakespeare though the eyes of Chagall and Matisse offers a new appreciation for the skill and genius of both author and artist. Some of the greatest artists of the 20th century have worked their magic, illustrating the master works by their literary counterparts.
We are showcasing 20 examples of books where the superstars of art and literature join forces, resulting in a collector's dream.
The first edition of this fantastic author and artist combo, published in1884. Includes 26 large engravings by Gustave Dore.
Dali illustrated a number of books but his artwork for this Spanish language edition is stunning. Originally published in Argentina, there are also Abbeville and Modern Library editions containing his illustrations.
One of the greatest works of literature from the 20th century, illustrated by one of its most revered artists, originally published in 1935 by the Limited Editions Club. 1500 of these were signed by Matisse, and 250 were also signed by Joyce. So popular was this combination that in 1999 by Easton Press issued a reprint at a more modest price.
In 1916 Wharton edited The Book of the Homeless which was composed of writings, art, erotica and musical scores by almost every major contemporary European artist of the time. The book contains contributions by Sarah Bernhardt, Joseph Conrad, Thomas Hardy, and Henry James; Illustrations by Charles Dana Gibson, Monet and Renoir as well as an intro by Theodore Roosevelt.
Picasso works his magic illustrating the Greek comedy Lysistrata for this 1934 edition, which was signed by Picasso and limited to 1500 copies. Once again Easton Press also published a reprint edition in 1983 for those looking for amazing art without the Picasso price tag.
Published in 1904, Wharton explores three centuries of knowledge and covers 80 villas and 60 garden architects in this non-fiction work; accompanying Wharton’s text are 26 illustrations by American neo-classical painter Maxfield Parish.
Sandoz is considered by many to be one of the most important fantasy authors in Switzerland and many of his books appeared in small and exclusive print runs, including this edition which was illustrated by Salvador Dali whom Sandoz met in the 1940s while in New York.
O'Hara and De Kooning met and became friends at the Museum of Modern Art where O'Hara worked as curator. In 1967 MoMA published the book to commemorate O'Hara's death. The book includes illustrations by thirty American artists, including De Kooning.
In 1955, the Limited Editions Club produced this book illustrated by Norwegian artist Per Per Krohg. Translated by William and Charles Archer, 1,500 numbered copies were produced.
Penguin Designer Classics pairs English fashion designer Paul Smith with D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover, limited to 1,000 copies with one single copy being signed by Smith.
Penguin took classic novels and paired them with legends in design and artistry in their Designer Classics series, limited to 1000 copies, including one single copy which was signed by Stephen Sorrell and Damon Murray of the design team FUEL.
This time Penguin Designer Classics took Fitzgerald’s fourth book adding cover and binding art from British photographer, conceptual artist, and filmmaker Sam Taylor-Wood, limited to 1000 copies with one single copy being signed by Taylor-Wood.
Penguin also gives Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot the designer treatment by letting Israeli architect and designer Ron Arad design the book. Limited to 1000 copies with one single copy being signed by Arad.
Dante’s classic has been re-published many times with these illustrations, but why not because what could better capture the terror of hell than the detailed imagery of Gustav Dore.
In 1930 two editions of this classic pairing were published: The Limited Lakeside Press edition in three volumes, and the more affordable but still highly sought after trade edition published by Random House. Kent’s haunting black-and-white pen/brush and ink drawings helped propel the Moby Dick revival of the 1930s.
Another ode to the artist and author pairing from the Limited Editions Club of New York, this was limited to 300 copies and combines 15 lithographs in which the Balthus deftly traces the psychologically complicated relationship between Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw.
Illustrated by Marc Chagall
Shakespeare’s play illustrated with 50 original black and white lithographs and signed by Marc Chagall.
Turner Prize winning artist Sean Scully illustrates Conrad’s Congo adventure classic in the 1922 publication from the Limited Editions Club of New York.
Ichabod Crane and the Headless horsemen as seen through the eyes of Arthur Rackham, this first American edition shows Rackham’s illustrations on the cover, unlike its English counterpart whose cover is green gilt and only features the illustrations on the book's interior.
In this book alternative New York artist Zak Smith portrays each page of Pynchon’s postmodern classic with a new illustration.