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More about Bert Dodson’s Rubaiyat

December 4, 2019

Jos Coumans has sent us some further comments relating to the Rubaiyat illustrations done by Bert Dodson, which were highlighted in the previous post.

When visiting Douglas Taylor in 2013, he showed me an edition of the rubáiyát, consisting of a number of large format plates: nineteen white leaves with a quatrain from FitzGerald and accompanying brown plates showing a drawing corresponding with the text.


JC dodson39

Image for quatrain 39

JC Dodson17

Image for quatrain 17









I remember Douglas mentioning the name of the artist, and that he obtained this set of prints by contacting the artist himself. I don’t remember how Douglas became aware of this work and its artist, but not much later (June 2014) he sent me an email in which he gave more details of his purchase.  Douglas wrote as follows:

“On Monday, April 9, 2001, I received a large set of nineteen illustrations in a paper folder embossed “Rubáiyát” with an R three inches high. The 19 sheets of paper are about 12 1/2 “ high by 17 7/8” wide. A single quatrain is printed on each sheet of white paper, and a line drawing done with a turkey quill is lithographed on each tan sheet of paper. The folded cover is the same paper as the lithographed sheets. The title sheet (tan) is styled as follows [there is an image of this in the previous post].

Selections from
Omar Khayyám’s
translated by Edward FitzGerald
(chain device)
designed & illustrated
for Publishers Graphics

On the inner side of the folder is printed as follows.

Drawings: Bert Dodson
Design: Creative Partners Inc.
Typography: Norwalk Typographers inc.
Lithography: Fairfield Graphics Inc.
Production: James Coviello

There is no date.

The quatrains illustrated are as follows:

7          Come, fill the Cup, and in the Fire of Spring
11        Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
13        Look to the Rose that blows about us – “Lo,
16        Think, in this batter’d Caravanserai
17        They say the Lion and the Lizard keep
23        Ah, make the most of what we yet may spend
26        Oh, come with old Khayyám, and leave the Wise
27        Myself when young did eagerly frequent
28        With them the Seed of Wisdom did I sow,
31        Up from Earth’s Centre through the Seventh Gate
37        Ah, fill the Cup: – what boots it to repeat
39        How long, how long, in infinite Pursuit
46        For in and out, above, about, below
49        ‘Tis all a Chequer-board of Nights and Days
51        The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ
52        And that inverted Bowl we call the Sky,
60        And, strange to tell, among the Earthen Lot
63        None answer’d this; but after Silence spake
69        Indeed the Idols I have loved so long

On Thursday, April 12, 2001, I called Dodson in Bradford, Vermont. He is from El Paso, Texas, and had relatives in Grand Prairie … and lived in Spain for a year.  …. He returned to Westport, Connecticut and founded Creative Partners (1972-1975). The drawings were issued as Christmas presents for clients in 1972 or 1973. There were about 200 complete sets of nineteen drawings and perhaps fifty more with fewer plates due to the randomness of printing. His 1985 book “Keys to Drawing” has a reference to these illustrations”.

Jos Coumans continues:

Recently I was lucky to buy a copy of Bert Dodson’s edition myself, from which I have taken the two pictures above, as an addition to the images supplied by Joe Howard in the previous post. A number of the illustrations show a more or less erotic scenery: nude men and women, sometimes in a somewhat provocative position as in image # 39. As Joe Howard indicated, often there seems to be no immediate relation between text and image, but a closer look may reveal imagery that pertains to the text as for instance in image # 17, where one might recognize a lion’s head, a lizard, a wild ass and a hunter asleep.

A copy of Dodson’s “Selections from Omar Khayyám’s Rubáiyát” was on auction in November 2017.

His book “Keys to Drawing with Imagination” with some Rubáiyát illustrations is available online on:, pp. 164-165.

Thank you, Jos, for these further insights into an interesting special edition of the Rubaiyat.

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