Binding Design: The Early Italian Poets (1861)

Dante Gabriel Rossetti


Physical Description

Medium: Plain black cloth boards. Design blocked in gold on upper and lower covers and spine. Reddish-brown end-papers.
Dimensions: 7 3/10 x 5 1/5 in.

Production Description

Production Date: 1861


Current Location: Library of Jerome McGann

Scholarly Commentary


This binding design inaugurated the series of such works that DGR invented between 1861 and 1871. Its simple and brilliant integrity would prove immensely influential on later book design. The arrangement of gold-stamped lines pull spine and both covers into a close relation and lighten the feel of what might otherwise appear a thick and heavy book. Grieve has noted that “the symmetrical grid of lines . . . resembles the crossing lines found in hymn and prayer books” (Grieve,“Applied Art 2”, 79).

Production History

In a May 27, 1861 letter to Macmillan, DGR states that "enclosed is the sketch for the binding, with full directions" (Fredeman, Correspondence, 61.33). The original drawings for the design, formerly attached to this letter, do not appear to have survived.


  • Fredeman, Correspondence, 61.33.
  • Fredeman,“Woodman, Spare that Block”, 7-41.
  • Grieve,“Applied Art 2”, 79-83.
  • DGR: Painter and Poet, Birmingham, 1973, 57 (no. 225).
Electronic Archive Edition: 1