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Joshua Heller Rare Books, Inc. - artists' books, private presses, and other rare fine art books
Catalogue 29 – Summer 2004

Section 1. Susan Allix

Go to: Front Page | Susan Allix | Artists' Books | Designer Bookbindings | Fine Printing & Private Press

Susan Allix -- Three decades of creative achievement

Our first ‘meeting’ took place in the pages of the Christmas 1970 print catalogue of the well-known William Weston Gallery in Albemarle Street, London. Among the Blakes, Corots, Le Corbusiers, Dufys and Hockneys was a print by a young printmaker entitled ‘Landscape’. The artist was Susan Allix. This was our first contact with her work. Three years later, as fate would have it, strolling through the galleries of the Victoria and Albert Museum we encountered Susan hard at work giving a printing demonstration on a handpress using images and text from her first book, Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

Little did we know that just over a decade later we would promote her work in the United States and beyond. Our association continues to this day.

Susan, with her background of study at the Royal College of Art, and as a Rome Scholar (1968-1970), as well as with her many journeys to various exotic and exciting countries such as Egypt, Iran, Sicily, Greece, India, and Spain, has created a fine body of work which includes her much admired travel books: A South Italian Journey (1985), Spanish Landscapes (1994), Pyramids (1995), Catalonia (1996-7), East from Here (1998), Ilias (2000), The Golden Temple Mail to Bharatpur (2001), and Egyptian Green (2003).

Susan Allix’s monumental achievement in both concept and realization of 37 artists’ books over three decades calls for some documentation and recognition. It is our hope that the following pages will bear out our belief that these books, with their striking images and brilliant colors, their beautiful bindings, fine papers, exciting and creative typography, interesting text - ideas that come together as an integrated whole - will stand the test of time and become the classics of tomorrow.

We have invited Susan to write some words “about books” which really says it all – click here to read that essay.

We can but conclude with quoting a verse from her Omar Khayyam.

NOTE: Of the books listed below, Susan Allix is making some out-of-print items available specially for this catalogue. There may be a short delay in shipping and delivery.

1 (Susan Allix) The Song of Solomon. With etchings and aquatints by Susan Allix. Privately printed and illustrated. [London. 1977.] 13.25" x 10.25". 21 original etchings and aquatints, hand printed by the artist on BFK Rives mould made paper. Typography handset and printed in Bembo Italic. Hand bound by Susan Allix in green Oasis, with colored onlays to a floral design, with tooling in gold and blind. Contained in a matching green felt-lined dropback box. Artist’s proof in a limited edition of 50 signed and numbered copies. Fine.


This edition of The Song of Solomon presents a unique combination of typography, etchings and binding designed, printed and made by a single artist.

2 (Susan Allix) Daphnis and Chloe. By Longus. Etchings by Susan Allix. Willow Press. [London. 1982.] 106p. 12" x 9".

Illustrated, printed and bound by Susan Allix. Twenty etchings in color and sepia. Printed on Velin Arches paper with handset text printed letterpress in 14pt Centaur, with hand drawn Greek titles. Dropback box. One in an edition of 55 signed copies. Fine.  


This copy specially bound for us by Susan Allix.

The story of Daphnis is a pastoral romance set in the Aegean island of Lesbos. It was written in Greek, probably in the third century AD. Nothing is known of the author; indeed even his name, Longus, may only be a corruption of the Greek word logos, meaning ‘story’. This is a new translation from the original Greek by A.M. Burnett. It is of the whole text and tries to preserve the original Greek by remaining as literal as English idiom will allow, as by keeping as far as possible the structure of the Greek." ... I composed this work of four chapters as an offering to Cupid, the Nymphs and Pan, and also as a delightful possession for all mankind - something to heal the sick and encourage the unhappy, and to bring back memories to those who have loved and educate those who have not." - Longus.

The Lady Eccles copy of one of Susan Allix’s most important productions

3 (Susan Allix) South Italian Journey. Prints by S.J.Allix with the Letters of Arthur John Strutt. Willow Press. [London. 1985.] Intaglio and relief prints by Susan Allix. 90p. 13.5” x 10”. 33 prints - 24 in color and 9 in black and white; 22 are etchings, and include aquatint, mezzotint, open bit and relief printing: the remainder are woodcuts, linocuts and card prints, with two hand colored woodcuts. Prints on 250gsm Velin Arches Blanc. Text handset in 14pt. Baskerville and printed on damped 160 gsm Arches Blanc. Bound in full yellow goatskin, with Japanese endpapers and printed flyleaves, colored onlays and tooling; blind lettered title on spine. Laid in a yellow cloth box lined with green suede; leather title label on spine. No. 18 of 30 copies, signed by Allix. Fine. 


“In April 1841, the artist Arthur John Strutt set out from Rome with his friend William Jackson, a poet, on a walking tour that was to take them through Southern Italy to Sicily. The purpose of the journey was to see and draw the scenery and costumes of this wild and unfamiliar part of Italy, and while Strutt travelled he sent letters home to his family. These letters describe, in vivid detail, the various experiences of ‘two such unheard of animals as English pedestrians.’

“Their route lay south to Naples, and on to such well-known monuments as Pompeii and Paestum; then along the coast past Capo di Palinuro and into the mountain villages of Calabria, with tales of strange lodging houses and ‘scenes and manners hitherto almost undescribed’ of the places and people they encountered. Entertained by local nobles, frequently losing their way, attacked and almost murdered by bandits, they finally arrived among the orange, lemon and pomegranate trees of the plain of Reggio.

“The letters were first published in 1842 by T.C.Newby under the title ‘A Pedestrian Tour in Calabria and Sicily.’ This new edition combines a selectionof the letters with a series of prints made in the same places during the last few years. The prints run in a series parallel to the letters and provide a visual commentary on the same mixture of subjects and interests; dark and isolated mountain villages, castles dominating the brilliant sea, landscapes built of colour, the momentary view inside a Roman house at Pompeii, and, in particular, scenes of ordinary people and everyday life, much of which seems little changed during the last hundred and fifty yeears.” - Prospectus.

Recently Allix wrote to us: “Many years before making A South Italian Journey I had spent time travelling in southern Italy, so when a literary neighbour offered me an insignificant little book entitled A Pedestrian Tour in Calabria, I read with interest this extract from a larger work. I recognised descriptions of the dark hill villages where in spring, with snow on the ground, one was invited to warm one's feet on the metal grid of a charcoal brazier; the wild mountains and the general bandit-like appearance of the male population.

So, with the complete text of Strutt's book I set out, with sketchbooks, to follow the route and visit new places. The road from Rome to Naples was familiar, and I already had a drawing made near Terracina in an orange grove beside the 'beautiful view over the sea' and above deserted ruins of a once splendid Roman villa. A situation very similar to one in my text. I continued through Naples, Pompeii, Salerno and on to Paestum. There, settling down to draw the temples, I was astounded to see beside me, wanting to know what I was about, the very look-alike of 'the abominable apparition of a snub-nosed official with a glazed cap' who so irritated Strutt. Even the glazed hat was there, not to mention the annoyance. And shortly afterwards I discovered that the present Barone Parotti is still entertaining in his castello at Castellabate, but now his visitors are holidaymakers.

The journey continued, and here and there I found characters; the portrait of the notorious Petronilla who accompanied her brigand husband on his expeditions is actually that of a fiery waitress I saw in a cafe on the slopes of Vesuvius. Eventually I found myself in Reggio, drawing palm trees in the public gardens, at the end of the beginning of making the book. Its interpretation and realisation was another journey in itself.”

4 (Susan Allix) Poems of Wyatt and Petrarch. Sonnets and Lyric Poems in English and Italian. Printed with etchings by Susan Allix. London. 1989. 52p. 14" x 11". Printed on Saunders 'Waterford' all rag paper. Seventeen full page etchings; two of which are fold-outs. Four of the etchings are printed in sepia, and the remainder, using either one or two plates, are inked "a la poupee", with up to 28 separate colors. There are also four lino-cuts made from drawings of the original handwriting of the Egerton manuscript. Bound in Kano goatskin of dark red inlaid with crimson, with onlays creating a still-life; handmade Roma Fabriano endpapers and doublures; the whole contained in a box. One in an edition of 20 copies of a total edition of 30. Fine.


One copy with Special binding.


This book brings together a selection of the poems of Sir Thomas Wyatt, famous for introducing the sonnet into England, and Francesco Petrarca, whose work he translated and adapted. The English text is taken from the Egerton manuscript in the British Library, a manuscript which was used by Wyatt himself. The Italian text is from the Vatican manuscript 3195, which is reproduced in Il Canzoniere di Francesco Petrarca (Societa Filologica Romana, Rome, 1904).

5 (Susan Allix) 12 Verses from 'The Day Dream' by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Designed, printed, illustrated and bound by Susan Allix. [London. 1995.] 65 printed pages, 35 of which have pochoir, linocut or a combination of both. 7" x 6". Printed in various colors on Somerset mould made paper with cream Japanese title sheets. Binding is tongue-in-slot construction with boards edged in a wide strip of dark purple goatskin, covered in Japanese paper stenciled in pastel colors and varnished, with a printed title and aqua green leather onlays. The edges sponged with watercolor, endpapers stenciled, and the fly leaves printed. The book has a curved top, and is cased in a green cloth box with a pink leather tie. One of only 17 signed copies. Fine.


The Day Dream is Tennyson's version of the Sleeping Beauty. The whole poem contains introductions and conclusions of a Victorian nature, but the twelve verses selected here are concerned with the events at the center of the recital; the slow and languorous descriptions of the sleeping palace, followed by a marvelous cascade of words as everything awakes. The words are typeset in lines and colors to combine with linocuts and pochoir in an expression both abstract and formally realistic.

6 (Susan Allix) Victorians Abroad: Observations of Five Travellers. Book designed, printed, illustrated with linocuts and bound by Susan Allix. London. 1995. 17 printed pages. 9" x 7". Hand set and printed letterpress in 14 point Baskerville with titles and occasional letters in Fry's Ornamented, all inked in colors that enhance the linocuts. Bound in deep gold cloth over board, with a large panel on Saunders Waterford paper on the front board, on which is printed the title and a colored linocut of a Tuscan landscape. Matching cloth covered slipcase. One of 80 copies.


Five short passages taken from the writings of Victorians travelling in Europe and beyond. [Elizabeth Barrett Browning - France, Walter Tyndale - Italy, George E. Street - Venice, Edward Lear - Corfu, and A.W. Kinglake - Egypt]. Text describes a particular place and is accompanied by an original color linocut.

7 (Susan Allix) Gray's Elegy. Designed, illustrated and bound by Susan Allix. London. 1997. n.p. 6" x 7.75". Poem presented in a slightly shortened version, hand set and printed letterpress on Velin Arches, with alternate pages French-folded on the fore-edge. Two printed pages and the doublures are of black Kuro Japanese paper. 17 black and white etchings, two with additional color and 4 hand colored after printing. Created using hard and soft ground, aquatint, sand grain aquatint and mezzotint on zinc plates. Bound in black goatskin with gray silk headbands. On the front board is a rectangle of glass, engraved by diamond point with the title and an image by Allix, through which is seen the soft purple of the Murasake endpapers. Glass held in place by two raised, six-sided motifs. Black cloth dropback box. Edition of 20 copies, signed and numbered by the artist. Fine.


8 (Susan Allix) Ilias. Text by Susan Allix. Printed, illustrated and bound by the artist. London. 2000. 6 etchings, 3 linocuts and 3 maps. 58p. 7.125" x 9.125". Handset and printed letterpress in 14pt. Baskerville on Zerkall 145gsm. paper. Soft cover of deep cobalt blue reversed suede and rough white handmade paper with black specks to give it a Greek feeling. The title printed in blue and it is presented in a light blue paper folder. An edition of 15 signed and numbered copies. Fine.


Allix says: "Ilias is a portrait of a man. It is done by observation of the man and his surroundings, so that his appearance, his possessions, his situation, his movements all present a picture of who Ilias might be. The reader of the book may then speculate on the past life of Ilias, his possible present activities; if he is hero or villain - why he has a bar on a Greek island. There are conversations, foldout maps, timed sightings and descriptions with a slightly stage-set feeling. Etchings and linocuts give visual portraits and match the colours of the place."

9 (Susan Allix) Four Colours in Flower. Unique artist’s book by Susan Allix. [London. n.d.] n.p. 13" x 9.75" Four sections of four leaves each are separated by colored paper; each section relating to a different flower - the Rose, Marigold, Iris and Foxglove. Each section has text in black describing the flower with a realistic image of the specific flower. The second image of the flower is more abstract, and the third image totally abstract. Doublures of orange handmade Japanese paper, with the first and last free endpapers painted to a design of lines and paint spots in the four colors chosen for use. Unique binding by the artist in full leather with each quadrant painted one of the four colors, with eight rectangular inlays of different colors; all overpainted with yet more color. Laid in a rust cloth covered box with blue suedette lining. Leather title labels on front and spine of box. Signed by Susan Allix. Fine.


Susan Allix has again produced a vividly colored floral book, with her beautiful floral images showing how she completes an abstract rendering of each flower.

An artist’s observations - after a journey to India

10 (Susan Allix) The Golden Temple Mail to Bharatpur: Indian Encounters. By Susan Allix. [London. 2001.] 50p. 10.25" x 8.5". 6 color etchings accompanied by a descriptive passage or story printed by letterpress in 14pt. Baskerville. Paper for text and etchings is Saunders Waterford. Designer binding by Allix of goatskin inlays of yellow, deep red and soft orange with yellow glace kid and onlays of cerise, with a wash of red dye and tooling in black, red and gold foil, and lettered in yellow on the spine. Endpapers of orange and lime paper and doublures of Indian yellow handmade paper from Jaipur. In a deep yellow cloth box lined with deep pink suede; paper title label on spine. One of 14 Specials thus in a total edition of 25 numbered and signed copies. Fine. Each special binding is a unique variant.  


Edition of 25 copies, Nos. 16-25 were made with the same letterpress pages, but with reproductions of the images on Zerkall paper. The bindings for these books are of purple or pink or yellow paper made in Jaipur with white mouldmade J. Green printed with the title in gold and yellow. They are sewn on tapes and yellow linen thread, with Indian yellow endpapers. In a chemise of white handmade Crisbrook paper with a transparent front, laced in yellow.  


"Two incidents led to the making of this book. One was the opportunity to observe the miniature painters of Udaipur and to obtain some of their original pigments for painting, and the other was the strange story told by the man on the train to Bharatpur." - Susan Allix.

11 (Susan Allix) Oropesina. Text, photographs, design and construction by Susan Allix. [London. 2001.] 22 color and 2 black and white photographs. 73p. 11.25" x 8.5". Written and photographed in Spain. Typeset and printed letterpress in several colors, by hand, in Bembo of varying sizes, with the images laser printed onto Zerkall mould made paper. Bound in beige cloth which is wrapped in a grey-gold paper, cut out, and title printed in red with green trim. Deep red hand made endpaper textured with fine red threads with cream striped flyleaves. Folder-like chemise of beige cloth lined with red felt. One of 25 signed copies. Fine.


"An Oropesina is a small almond cake which gives its name to this book. In it, time is reconstructed and moved backwards and forwards in a short story. As the words make another time and other events, a series of photographs intimately connected with the story give it a real space in which to exist, with the added dimension of time suspended in an abandoned house. "Also included is an inventory of the contents of the house that gives a curious insight into the realities of the lives of its former occupants." - Allix.

12 (Susan Allix) A-Z Old Fashioned Rhymes. Alphabet book by Susan Allix. [London. Reprinted 2003.] 43p. 5" x 6". The 26 rhymes, set in 18pt Bembo Italic, are accompanied by 13 colored lino-cuts. Printed on Saunders paper, with colored ends and flyleaves. Red handmade paper cover, with triangular openings. Contained in a maroon folder. Not stated is that the revised edition is of 30 copies which are signed by Allix, but unnumbered. Fine.


A-Z Old Fashioned Rhymes is an alphabet book made for children, perhaps with adults in mind. In 1985 a few copies were made, and then the lino-cuts were put away and forgotten. Now some more copies have been printed and the book re-issued.

13 (Susan Allix) Egyptian Green. Artist’s book by Susan Allix. Text by various authors. [London. 2003.] 28 etchings made from original drawings and printed in colour, some with added watercolour and pencil, of various sizes. 129p.13" x 11". Four etchings are on fine Japanese paper enclosed in folded sheets of natural Kozo. Various papers of Velin Arches, blanc and crème; Egyptian papyrus; occasional colored Nepalese Lotka and Daphne sheets and Leauw Algae; also Japanese Tosa Shoji and Kozo Natural.The typeface is 18pt. Verona Italic together with various sizes of Bodoni. It is hand set and printed by letterpress. Binding in colors of green, cream and burnt orange. Emerald green goatskin covers spine, fore-edge and remaining edges. It has panels of small, abstract cut-out shapes, through which is visible the textured, cotton- mesh orange paper which also frames a central portrait of a shadow-print etching of the goddess Hathor. Small green and orange dots sprinkle over the cover. The endpapers, doublures and fly-leaves are of Nepalese paper. Book in a green, felt-lined cloth box with printed labels and a separate, decorative opening page. One in an edition of 24 signed copies. Fine.


Allix writes: "The idea of this book is to link past with present and to make a picture; a limited one when looking at the richness of Egypt, but a view that is seen and stitched together with a thread of green.  Green links together the progression of time; the fields beside the Nile are always brilliant emerald and the palms of a desert oasis greenish-grey. Green indicates the protection of Osiris, God of the Underworld, and as a holy Muslim colour appears as a mosque carpet. Likewise the luminous green sea and the smudges of paint remaining in tombs all take their place.

“At which exact moment, and why, I began to note greenness I cannot say. It is a colour not immediately associated with Egypt, but with observation it is seen to be interwoven into many aspects of Egyptian life. The continuity of past to present became obvious when I observed that the profile of a man on a bus was exactly the same as those in an ancient tomb at which I had just been staring. Naguib Mahfouz, the Egyptian novelist, seems to echo this when he says of one of his present day characters in Adrift on the Nile ­ "What is the point whether you remain on this earth or depart? Since historical time is nothing compared to the time of the cosmos she is really a contemporary of Eve."

The texts in Egyptian Green are mainly drawn from travellers visiting or writing about Egypt. The earliest is a spell written inside an ancient coffin; later writers include Plutarch and Catullus, also Leonhart Rauwolff who noted in 1672 that the water of the Nile was "perfectly green", and Amelia Edwards on the precise colour of palm trees. There are two calligraphic pieces of Kufic script printed from the original blocks found in Cairo."

14 (Susan Allix) The Province. James, Maupassant, Deschamps, Smollett, St. Augustine, Veryard, Locke in the south of France. Artist’s book with 7 soft ground etchings of landscapes in Provence by Susan Allix. [London. 2003.] 55 pages of varying shapes and sizes and colors. 11" x 13". The type is set in different point sizes of Garamond and Gill; woodletter and handcolouring are also used. There are 7 soft ground colored etchings. The letterpress and etchings are printed on a variety of hand made and mould made papers and the endpapers are made of Fabriano Roma. The binding uses ochre and red goatskin with canvas, reversed goatskin and purple-dyed calfskin. It also incorporates paper, crayon, acrylic paint and graphite. Laid in a purple cloth dropback box lined with tan felt; leather title label on spine and single tan leather strip near spine on the top of the box. One in an edition of 11 signed copies. Fine.


Allix writes: "Originally named ‘the province’ by the Romans, this region of the south of France has long exercised a fascination for travellers, enticed by its golden light, its exotic southern fertility, its rich history and varied culture; a home to the romantic ideals of troubadour poetry, to the great French painters of the 19th century, and many famous and eccentric personalities in between. "Unsurprisingly, there have been many words written by visitors on the subject of Provence. The selection in this book gives a very small flavour of them. Henry James writes with a relaxed enjoyment of his own pictorial observations – a fluent French speaker he felt at home in France and the discomforts of travel never seemed to disturb him unduly. .... And when Petrarch climbed to the top of Mont Ventoux in 1327, he took out his copy of St Augustine’s Confessions and it fell open at the page used here.

"This appears quite restless. Some pages are odd sizes and shapes, and much use is made of papers of varying colours and textures. Each section is framed in a different colored sheet, which serves to distinguish and reflect the individual character of each author, and also to give the book a form.

“The colored etchings derive from landscape drawings made mainly in the region of Mont Ventoux. The typography, with its erratic combinations of large and small letter forms and its placing on - and sometimes slightly off - the page, suggests a slower and more thoughtful way of reading. The shifting colours and angles of the landscapes combine with the variable nature of the typography to conjure up the changing atmosphere of different parts of Provence at different times."

Go to: Front Page | Susan Allix | Artists' Books | Designer Bookbindings | Fine Printing & Private Press


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