London, R. Alistair McAlpine Publishing Ltd, April 1971.
Large quarto, a card bifolium with a large colour plate by Nolan tipped in on the second page, facing a poem by Christopher Smart ('Rejoice in the Lamb').
Outer surfaces slightly marked; offsetting to the centrespread; an excellent copy of a sober and expensive production.
'Rejoice in the Lamb' was 'commissioned in 1943 by an indefatigable champion of new music for the Anglican church, the Reverend Walter Hussey, in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of his church, St Matthew's, Northampton. Britten chose to set the then recently-published "Jubilate Agno", written by Christopher Smart in the mid-eighteenth century from his eyrie in a lunatic asylum. Even by Britten's own standards it was a daring choice which few could bring off with such dazzling aplomb' (Naxos Records blurb). 'Paradise Garden', as published, contains Nolan's 'A woman's tides' opposite this particular painting: 'The long joyful sea | hateth me, | the surgeon | might have died | on opening me, | a wet inferno | full of kelp | and rotting hero | knotted in myself'. Loosely inserted is a processed typescript prospectus-cum-order form, far less lavishly produced on the recto only of a sheet of plain paper, for what is now described as a 'book of original paintings, drawings and poems by Sidney Nolan', an altogether different trio. The poems themselves are a bitter response to his ménage à trois with John and Sunday Reed at Heide, and the book's publication, thirty years after that relationship dissolved, was not welcomed by them. Looking at these two prospectuses, ostensibly for the same publication, one could be forgiven for thinking R. Alistair McAlpine got a surprise somewhere between the conception and birth of this project too. The order form states there are '2885 copies as standard edition | 110 copies bound as de luxe edition and signed by the artist | 25 copies with original drawings by the artist'. The limitation page in the published work states there are '2890 copies as standard edition | 110 copies bound as de luxe edition | 20 copies with original drawings signed by the Artist'. This anomaly may go some way to explaining why the copies of the deluxe edition, signed and numbered by Nolan, have an upper limit of 85 copies. The phrase 'with original drawings' should have been written more accurately as 'with AN original drawing'. A second loose insert is a similar sheet of paper containing an extract from Robert Melville's introduction to the book.