Moby Dick by Herman Melville, illustrated by Rockwell Kent

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.




Authors & Artists

The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe, illustrated by Gustave Dore The Raven
Edgar Allan Poe
Illustrated by Gustave Dore

The first edition of this fantastic author and artist combo, published in1884. Includes 26 large engravings by Gustave Dore.

Don Quixote by Cervantes, Illustrated by Salvador Dali Don Quixote
Illustrated by Salvador Dali

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.

Ulysses by James Joyce, illustrated by Henri Matisse Ulysses
James Joyce
Illustrated by Henri Matisse

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.

The Book of the Homeless, edited by Edith Wharton The Book of the Homeless
edited by Edith Wharton
Illustrations by Charles Dana Gibson, Monet, Renoir and others

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.

Lysistrata by Aristophanes, illustrated by Picasso Lysistrata
Illustrated by Picasso

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.

Italian Villas and Their Gardens by Edith Wharton, Illustrated by Maxfield Parish Italian Villas and Their Gardens
Edith Wharton
Illustrated by Maxfield Parish

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.

The House Without Windows by Maurice Sandoz, Illustrated by Salvador Dali The House Without Windows
Maurice Sandoz
Illustrated by Salvador Dali

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.

The Selected Poems of Frank O'Hara by Frank O'Hara, Illustrated by Willem De Kooning In Memory of My Feelings
Frank O'Hara
Illustrated by Willem De Kooning

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.

Peer Gynt by Henrik Ibsen, Illustrated by Per Krohg Peer Gynt by Henrik Ibsen
Peer Gynt
Illustrated by Per Krohg

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.

Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence, designed by Sir Paul Smith Lady Chatterley's Lover
D.H. Lawrence
Designed by Sir Paul Smith

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.

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky, designed by FUEL: Stephen Sorel & Damon Murray Crime and Punishment
Fyodor Dostoevsky
Designed by FUEL: Stephen Sorel & Damon Murray

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.

Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald, designed by Sam Taylor-Wood Tender is the Night
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Designed by Sam Taylor-Wood

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.

The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, designed by Ron AradThe Idiot
Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Designed by Ron Arad

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.

Inferno by Dante Alighieri, illustrated by Gustave Dore Inferno
Dante Alighieri
Illustrated by Gustave Dore

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.

Moby Dick by Herman Melville, illustrated by Rockwell Kent Moby Dick or The Whale
Herman Melville
Illustrated by Rockwell Kent

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.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, illustrated by Balthus Wuthering Heights
Emily Bronte
Illustrated by Balthus

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.

The Tempest by Shakespeare, illustrated by Marc Chagall The Tempest
Illustrated by Marc Chagall

Shakespeare’s play illustrated with 50 original black and white lithographs and signed by Marc Chagall.

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, illustrated by Sean Scully Heart of Darkness
Joseph Conrad
Illustrated by Sean Scully

Turner Prize winning artist Sean Scully illustrates Conrad’s Congo adventure classic in the 1922 publication from the Limited Editions Club of New York.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving, illustrated by Arthur Rackham The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Washington Irving
Illustrated by Arthur Rackham

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.

Pictures Showing What Happens on Each Page of Thomas Pynchon's Novel Gravity's Rainbow by Zak Smith Pictures Showing What Happens on Each Page of Thomas Pynchon's Novel Gravity's Rainbow
Zak Smith

In this book alternative New York artist Zak Smith portrays each page of Pynchon’s postmodern classic with a new illustration.

Who is your favorite book illustrator?

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