TU acquires copy of Eric Gill's The Four Gospels

Monday, February 03, 2014

Book considered one of the finest works ever produced by Golden Cockerel Press

The University of Tulsa McFarlin Library has acquired a rare, well-preserved copy of a book that has been described as “one of the most handsome illustrated books of the 20th century.” Published by Golden Cockerel Press in 1931, The Four Gospels is an outstanding example of a remarkable renaissance of artistic concepts and craftsmanship in book design and production in England between the 1890s and 1930s. The noted British sculptor, illustrator, printmaker and typographer, Eric Gill, provided the artistic genius behind the creation of the volume.

The Four GospelsOne of only 488 copies ever printed, this exquisite book is considered one of Gill’s greatest achievements as an illustrator and one of the finest works produced by Golden Cockerel Press. It also represents the first work for which he created the illustrations and designed the typeface, which became the standard Golden Cockerel Press font.

In this unique edition, the Bible’s four gospels are a synthesis of art and text expressed through stunning woodcut illustrations and original typography on sumptuous hand-made paper in an unjustified layout. Gill’s modernist elements depict several emotional scenes documented throughout the four essential books of the New Testament. His interpretation of the gospels remains true to the modest style and structure of early Christian imagery.

“It is important for research libraries to collect books such as this because they represent a very specific way in which older literature, including classics and religious tracts, were interpreted in modern times,” said Adrian Alexander, TU’s R.M. & Ida McFarlin Dean of the Library.

“It’s partly about preservation of culture. Books like this are works of art as well as literature and should be preserved for other people to enjoy.”

Alexander said The Four Gospels will complement TU’s rich collections of modernist literature and serve as a unique teaching tool for both the School of Art and Department of English.

Gail Ellis