Orestes or the Art of Smiling
New York: Simon and Schuster, 1961. Gnoli, Domenico. First edition, first printing. Folio. Original brown cloth and dust jacket (not price-clipped). Minor edgewear to dust jacket, else fine in a fine dust jacket. Increasingly uncommon with dust jacket in this condition. Item #102
Beautiful first edition of Domenico Gnoli’s (1933–1970) modern fairy tale about a melancholy prince who discovers how to smile. Gnoli was a renowned Italian painter and stage designer best known for his surrealist pop art and canvas work featuring extremely scaled paintings of folds, patterns, and textures. Gnoli’s more surrealist and fantastical illustrations, sketches, and etchings recall the famed works of Edward Gorey (with which Gnoli’s works were sometimes confused)—and Gnoli’s talent for the surreal and fantastic are on full display in his most popular and treasured book, Orestes or the Art of Smiling. Equal parts fairy tale and work of art, Gnoli’s 1961 book tells the tale of Orestes, young Prince of Terramafiusa, and how he claimed his smile with the aid of Lucien, a liberal parrot, the gaucheries of the portly Prime Minister, and the beautiful lady-in-waiting, Violante. Composed and produced in a large folio volume, this sprawling work of art and literature is exquisitely illustrated throughout in his famed surrealist style with numerous ink and watercolor drawings that sprawl across the folio pages. For many readers, Gnoli’s fantastic tale, while brilliant, serves as the occasion for the incredibly dreamlike illustrations that define this modern work of art. Orestes or the Art of Smiling offers lovers of art and fairy tale a unique way to engage with the imagination and artistic genius of Domenico Gnoli. First printings in this condition are increasingly uncommon in the trade.