John Keats, 1795–1821, was an English Romantic poet. He wrote ‘To Autumn’ in September 1819 and mentions it in a letter to his friend John Reynolds: ‘How beautiful the season is now. How fine the air – a temperate sharpness about it. Really, without joking, chaste weather – Dian skies. I never liked stubble-fields so much as now – aye, better than the chilly green of the Spring. Somehow, a stubble- field looks warm, in the same way that some pictures look warm. This struck me so much in my Sunday’s walk that I composed upon it.’
Inspired by the vibrant colours of autumn leaves, each page illustrates one line from the poem. The paintings or drawings, perhaps "calligrams", incorporate the words, drawn with a pen that create complex and intriguing patterns.
The illustrations were created in pairs, as facing pages. As the poem comprises three, eleven-line stanzas, an additional three images were used to balance the double page spreads. The original images were created with acrylic inks, the line of the poem itself was added digitally, reversed out in white for the book.
The bigger picture
Each image is based on a detail from a photograph of a maple tree on Bedford Street in Minneapolis. Seen all together, the bigger picture is revealed in a fractured montage, nine feet tall.
The illustrations are also available as separate prints in two sheet sizes: large (11 x 17 inches) and small (8 x 11), with or without the text line.
Published in April 2008.
The book is printed digitally using Epson Ultrachrome K3 pigment inks. The paper is mould made 225 gsm Somerset Enhanced from the St Cuthberts Mill in Somerset, England. Somerset is made from 100% cotton, and is an archival grade paper.
Printed only on one side of the sheet, the pages are joined together with Tyvek and sewn with coloured thread. The bindings are constructed to allow the book to open and lie flat.
Available in four editions:
Edition A — 432 x 279 mm (17 x 11 ins), decorated full-leather binding, together with an extra set of the thirty-six prints. The prints are the same size as the book and housed in a paper chemise. All in a cloth-covered drop-back box. 5 copies. £6400 ($8,000).
Edition B — 432 x 279 mm (17 x 11 ins), decorated full-leather binding. In a cloth-covered drop-back box. 10 copies. £4400 ($5,500).
Edition C — 432 x 279 mm (17 x 11 ins), quarter-cloth, paste-paper covered boards with handrawn title. 40 copies. £1500 ($1,850).
Edition D — 279 x 178 mm (11 x 7 ins), paper covers. 200 copies, £730 ($900).