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The Rubaiyat of Omar Kháyyám


This book is notable for its Arts-and-Crafts design, the subjects (both nudes and artists of the time like Joachim Miller), and the fact that the photographer was a woman. Adelaide Hanscom, of San Francisco, photographed from 1900 to 1916, heavily manipulating her glass plates to affect a painterly, pictorialist style. Her images in this book are allegorical tableaux, featuring figures in ancient costume, enacting parts of Kháyyám's verse.

The first edition was printed on at least two different types of tissue, one limp and thin, and the other stiff and parchment-like. Dodge published many subsequent editions of this popular title with Hascom's photographic illustrations, in at least three smaller sizes, all with halftones, sometimes in color. In a 1912 edition, Blanch Cumming, another San Francisco photographer, was inexplicably also credited, although no additional illustrations appeared. In 1906, the San Francisco earthquake and fire destroyed Hanscom's entire studio, including her Rubaiyat negatives. A decade later she provided similarly dreamy illustrations for an edition of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnets from the Portuguese, but her Rubaiyat images represent most of Hanscom's print legacy, as her silver prints are rare.

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