Barry Moser is generally and justly regarded as the most important book artist of the past quarter-century, a tradition begun in this country by N.C. Wyeth, extended by Rockwell Kent, and furthered by artists as diverse as Jim Dine, Maurice Sendak, and Leonard Baskin. Moser's watercolors, woodcuts, and wood engravings have informed and adorned more than two hundred books, many of them central to the English-speaking canon, by writers such as Melville, Shelley, Welty, and Twain. In all his efforts, it is his preoccupation with the character of the creator that is manifest and dominant. Here, in a selection of one hundred portraits, many of them created especially for this book, we see the full range of his genius in portrayals of writers (Chaucer, Dickens, O'Connor, Willard, Oates), musicians and composers (Chopin, Handel, Wagner), artists (whistler, Rembrandt, Shahn), and even politicians (Douglass, Grant, King). Ann Patchett, the recipient of the Pen/Faulkner Award and Great Britain's prestigious Orange Prize, contributes a splendid essay about Moser's portraits and the subject of portraiture in general. Moser has also penned a note about his work, and especially the challenge of portraiture, that appears as an afterword.
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