Frederick Evans' platinotypes for the Immortal Don

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547-1616), The History of Don Quixote of the Mancha. Translated from the Spanish … by Thomas Shelton, annis 1612, 1620. Introductions by James Fitzmaurice-Kelly, 1896 ([London: privately printed, 1913]). 4 volumes extra-illustrated with 99 platinotypes. Vol. 1 contains an addition title-page: “Illustrations to Cervantes’ Don Quixote by Arthur Boyd Houghton, 1866. Facsimile reproductions in platinotype of Dalziel Brothers’ woodcuts by Frederick H. Evans. Privately printed, MCMXIII.” Graphic Arts GAX 2010- in process.

This four volume set of Don Quixote belonged to the photographer and bookseller Frederick Henry Evans (1853-1943). The set is extra-illustrated with 99 photographic facimiles of illustrations drawn by Arthur Boyd Houghton (1836-1875) and printed by the Brothers Dalziel (Edward, George, John, Margaret Jane!, and Thomas), the most influential British wood engraving firm in the 1860s and 1870s. Evans made these plates by photographing the ink prints and then, using the negative to make platium (photographic) positives.

According to a note from Evans, only three platium prints were made from each negative and then, the negative was destroyed. Evans printed and privately published this edition of three, as he did with a number of classic illustrated books in his personal library. Each volume has two Frederick Evans’ bookplates: one designed by F.C. Tilney and the other an adaptation of the Morte Darthur borders by Aubrey Beardsley (possibly authorized by the artist).

Evans also wrote: “The smaller drawings have been enlarged to make the set uniform in size. These drawings - the most imaginative, respectful and comedically heroic ever made for the immortal Don - have been reproduced in this beautiful photographic process expressly to illustrate the best English translation….”


And if that is not enough, laid-in is an autographed letter dated 1916, from Charles Ricketts. “Dear Mr. Evans, I remember you quite well and congratulate you on your reproductions of Houghton’s Don Quixote illustrations. …It may interest you to know that Whistler, who admired Houghton greatly, has a special liking for the Don Quixote series which he was the first to bring to my notice. Ever sincerely yours, C. Ricketts”.