A first edition of The Moxon Illustrated Edition of Tennyson’s Poems, is now one of the most collectible, valued books in the history of printed book illustration. It includes images designed by some of the most well-known artists of the Victorian age
Intended as a Christmas gift book in 1856, Edward Moxon commissioned the artists to design the illustrations, which were then cut into wood blocks by various engravers. 24 of the designs were produced by established members of the Royal Academy, such as Daniel Maclise, John Horsley and William Mulready. However 30 were commissioned from the startling Pre-Raphaelites, Rossetti, Hunt and Millais. Millais had a foot in both camps being an ‘associate’ of the Royal Academy.
Rossetti was late with his designs. The book missed the Christmas market when its high cost would have been more acceptable, and therefore sold very slowly from February 1857. The financial consequences are said to have led to Moxon’s early death.