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A Rubaiyat illustrated by Edward Taylor Jewett

August 29, 2017

Bob Forrest has located another unique copy of the Rubaiyat in the San Diego Public Library.  He writes as follows.

In San Diego Public Library is what appears to be a little-known and unique copy of The Rubaiyat. The full text of FitzGerald’s fourth edition has been written out, illuminated and illustrated, all by hand, on vellum, by the American artist Edward Taylor Jewett. One page is illustrated here. The book can be viewed, in full, online at:

The book is undated and relatively little seems to be known about its origins and history, though some information has come to light.

Jewett was born in New York in 1868, moved to Santa Barbara in 1914, and lived there until his death in 1955. Trained in Paris and New York, in the 1920s he seems to have found a lucrative niche in designing wall hangings and tapestries for private homes and hotels, the designs for many of which were exhibited at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art in June 1947. It is from a yellowed newspaper report on this exhibition that we glean some useful information. (Unfortunately, the clip is from an un-named newspaper, though someone has written the date June 22nd 1947 on it.)

The newspaper report opens thus:

“’There are more Spanish tapestries in the United States than there are castles in Spain,’ said Gordon Kauffmann, architect, one day in 1925, ’but I can’t find one that will fit the space over the mantel in a house I am doing.’

‘Do you suppose,’ he proposed to Edward Taylor Jewett, a New Yorg (sic) artist who had been doing illuminations on vellum of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, ‘that you could make me one on silk ?’”

Thus we know that Jewett’s Rubaiyat was done by, or at least was in progress in, 1925.

According to the same newspaper report, Jewett had a special fondness for Persian Art, and he had illuminated one of Rumi’s poems as well as Omar’s Rubaiyat:

“The exhibition also includes a case filled with the artist’s illuminations on vellum of a Persian poem, ‘The Song of the Reed’. These are Mr Jewett’s pets. He began them four or five years ago and has just completed and sold them – almost reluctantly.”

Unlike Jewett’s Rubaiyat, though, no-one seems to know where the Rumi illuminations are now.

As for Jewett’s Rubaiyat, the shelf list record at San Diego Public Library tells us simply that it was purchased by the library from a Mrs Dorothy Taylor Mills in 1968 for $1300. Who she was or how she acquired it, I do not know. (Was she, perhaps, the married sister of the artist, whose mother’s maiden name was Taylor ?)

My thanks are due to Richard W. Crawford, Special Collections Manager at San Diego Public Library, and to Mackenzie Kelly, Archives Manager and Curatorial Exhibition Assistant at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, for their help in compiling the above account.

Our thanks to Bob for this information.  Does any reader have answers to his questions about the provenance of this copy?  And has anyone seen the original manuscript?


A holiday puzzle – can you guess the artist?

August 27, 2017

Garry Garrard has posed us all the following puzzle.

The  picture below is an illustration from a translation of a classic text (published 1951- not the Rubaiyat and not even Persian).

Can you identify the artist or even make a guess?  The clue is that the same artist was responsible for illustrating an earlier edition of the Rubaiyat.

Please post your suggestions as comments below.  We have to admit that we failed the challenge and we surprise by Garry’s answer.  We’ll post the answer in due course.

Artists of the Omar Khayyam Club of London

July 25, 2017

Danton O’Day has continued his useful exploration and documentation of the artists who illustrated the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam with a new book covering those artists who illustrated the menus of the Omar Khayyam Club of London from 1892 to 1929.  More details about the book and how to obtain it are shown below.  We are waiting with interest to receive the copy we have ordered.  Danton O’Day writes as follows.

My new book documents the menu artists of the Omar Khayyam Club of London from 1892-1929.

While 26 artists were credited in the two books of the Club, there actually were 28 different menu artists. Of these several were not properly credited for their contributions. For example, one artist was credited for three pictures that belonged to two other artists. Another incorrectly attributed picture was done by an unidentified artist. This book details these issues as well as providing many other insights, firsts, and facts:

-First complete documentation of the artists of the Omar Khayyam Club of London Menus, 1892-1929
-First time most of the pictures have been seen since their initial publication
-Discovery of numerous incorrect artist credits
-Discovery of another “Unidentified Artist”
-Recognition of artists who were not credited for their contributions
-Corrected lists and timelines of artists and their contributions
-Learn about the artists: a cartoonist, a spy, the man who developed camouflage and more…

The books, photo-quality hardcover and softcover (92pp)  are available at:

Hardcover, ImageWrap ISBN: 9781389917240
Softcover, ISBN: 9781389917257


Charles Conder and the Rubaiyat – Some new research findings

July 13, 2017

Bob Forrest has added yet another name to the impressive list of people associated with the Rubaiyat that he has documented on his wide-ranging website.  This time the person is Charles Conder (1868–1909), an English artist who also worked for a time in Australia as well as in various European countries.

As Bob documents, ‘in the 1890s Conder met and became associated with Aubrey Beardsley, Ernest Dowson, Arthur Symons, Charles Ricketts and Will Rothenstein, not to mention the likes of Oscar Wilde, Max Beerbohm and Toulouse–Lautrec’.  Conder did not produce illustrations in a published edition of the Rubaiyat, though he had had hopes of doing so in the early 1890’s.  However several of his individual drawings relate to FitzGerald’s version of the poem, including quotes from the text.  And Conder inserted a set of nine hand produced illustrations in a copy of Macmillan’s 1891 edition of the Rubaiyat (an example is shown here).

This copy is now in a private collection to which Bob has had access, and his article includes reproductions of the Conder illustrations.  There is also much comment and analysis of Conder’s inspiration for his interpretation of the quatrains and other paintings.  The full article can be accessed at .

Thank you, Bob, for illuminating one more corner of Rubaiyat history.

Kibbles for the Soul. A new book by Martin Kimeldorf *

July 11, 2017

Martin Kimeldorf’s new book  Kibbles for the Soul has the sub title Howling at the Fatalism, Joy and Transience of Life.  In it, he uses the format of the Rubaiyat quatrain to communicate his own reactions to many of the quandaries of life in the 20th and 21st centuries, drawing parallels with the fatalistic and agnostic views of Khayyam and FitzGerald.  The book contains some introductory background on the earlier authors and the history of the Rubaiyat, followed by themed sections on various fundamental questions.  The text is illustrated with pictures, mainly of Martin’s canine friends who have clearly played an important part in his life.

The poems in Kibbles for the Soul are what, in the context of the history of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, would be described as parodies of the FitzGerald original.  But they have a much more serious purpose that many of the earlier 20th century parodies, and Martin’s work shows how the message and medium of the Rubaiyat can be reinterpreted for our time.  The topical content and language will attract many younger readers who may be put off by FitzGerald’s Victorian language.  Here is an example from the section on Digital Conundrums:

Passwords locked me out in the cold
Protecting me from evil I’m told
Corporate thieves record my every move
My stolen data so quickly sold.

The book is available on Amazon UK and on

* For those like us to whom the word Kibbles was previously unknown, Martin provides a useful glossary.  His prime meaning is as follows:  ‘a pet snack or food, used as munchies or treats in between meals’.

More on The Golden Age of Rubaiyat Art by Danton H. O’Day

June 29, 2017

Danton O’Day published the hardcover versions of his important new work on Rubaiyat Art back in March, see  Softcover versions of these books are now available and Danton tell us that the hardcover edition will only be available until September when he intends to make inexpensive trade books available.  The latter will not have the photo-quality pictures, that are included in the earlier editions.  Details of the editions currently available and how to obtain them are shown below.

The Golden Age of Rubaiyat Art
Danton H. O’Day

Vol. I. The Illustrators  

  • Softcover Flexible, photo-quality paper, high-gloss laminated cover US $64.99
  • Hardcover, photo-quality paper, ImageWrap Cover design is printed on the hardcover US $79.99

Vol. II. Popular Themes

  • Softcover Flexible, photo-quality paper, high-gloss laminated cover US $39.49
  • Hardcover, photo-quality paper, ImageWrap Cover design is printed on the hardcover US $54.49

Vol. III. The Decorators

  • Softcover Flexible, photo-quality paper, high-gloss laminated cover US $45.49
  • Hardcover, photo-quality paper, ImageWrap Cover design is printed on the hardcover US $54.49
Note:  The softcover (blue cover) and hardcover (black cover) have different covers but only the blue cover is shown at the website

More things to go on the Rubaiyat trays

June 7, 2017

Bob Forrest has sent us details of a Rubaiyat decanter which he bought recently and which would go nicely on one of the Rubaiyat trays mentioned in earlier posts, with some Rubaiyat wine in it? – see .  

Bob writes as follows.

I bought this Rubaiyat decanter on ebay several months ago now. It is about 24cm tall, from its base to the top of the stopper. Unfortunately, it bears no maker’s mark, and as a result I haven’t been able to date it, so if any of your blog readers knows anything about it, please let me know!  Please add your comments below.