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The Ballad of Soames Bantry.
And other stories from the fabled life and New York years of photographer, painter and poet Saul Leiter.

Photographs by Saul Leiter. Text by Michael Torosian, based on the accumulated reflections of the artist and his circle.
Lumiere Press and Howard Greenberg Gallery, Toronto and New York, Canada and USA, 2018. In English. 64 pp., 18 color plates, 8½x11½".

Publisher's Description

Printed in a numbered edition of 250. Numbers 1 to 50 have been retained by the Howard Greenberg Gallery.

My friend Soames was a talented artist. She and I shared our lives together in ups and downs and ins and outs. She was beautiful. She believed in my work. She was something.

So begins, with Saul Leiter's paean to his muse, an intimate reverie on family, relationships, philosophy and the wonder of an artistic life. Lumiere Press celebrates thirty-one years of fine press publishing with the release of The Ballad of Soames Bantry. Over the years it has been our mission and pleasure to present original interviews, primary source documentation, thoughtful essays and astutely selected images, with elegance and craftsmanship, as our contribution to the dialogue on the art of photography and the art of the book. With The Ballad of Soames Bantry, we offer our most ambitious title to date and a genre of bookmaking all its own.

The Ballad of Soames Bantry is a kaleidoscope, Saul's life seen through the prism of his associates, colleagues and friends: Philippe Laumont, Grace Coddington, Robert Benton, Alan Porter, Jane Livingston, Howard Greenberg, Adam Harrison Levy, Tomas Leach, Anders Goldfarb, and Margit Erb. Recollections from the members of “the artist's circle” are interwoven with period art reviews, Leiter's poetry — published here for the first time — and predominantly, Saul's voice — his aphorisms and personal narrative distilled from more than 130,000 words of transcription of lectures and interviews — Saul's candid reflections on work and life.

The book's epilogue is taken in its entirety from Michael Torosian's conversation with Saul Leiter of August 1, 2013. The artist's last interview.

Recognized as a pioneer of color photography, Leiter was also an immensely prolific and ingenious painter. The Ballad of Soames Bantry brings together the diversity of his artistic expression in a suite of images which amplify the autobiographical narrative and celebrate a personal vision described by Anders Goldfarb as “riveting and profound, soulful and spirited.”

Twentieth century letterpress and twenty-first century offset lithography have been combined to present a suite of 18 color plates. Each image has been meticulously rendered in 10 micron stochastic four-color offset lithography on acid-free Mohawk Superfine paper which has been matte varnished. Each plate has then been individually tipped onto the page within a letterpress debossed tint block. The result is the ideal integration of art and book craft. The book is further illustrated with two Saul Leiter self-portraits printed on Somerset.

The text has been composed in lead on the Intertype model C4 in Linotype Eldorado, a rare, exquisite typeface designed in 1950 by the legendary William Addison Dwiggins. The lead formes were printed letterpress by hand on the Vandercook Universal III on Somerset, a 100% rag paper made expressly for this edition at the St. Cuthbert Mill in England.

The endpapers — a rich stock toned to harmonize with the cover plaque — were crafted to our specifications at the Papeterie Saint-Armand in Montreal. The edition has been hand bound in full cloth in blue mohair Asahi Japanese book cloth. The cover is ornamented with a graphic plaque printed in multiple layers of varnish and gold on “Plike” stock set into the debossed cover panel. Presented in a handmade slipcase lined with Saint-Armand paper and wrapped with blue mohair Asahi book cloth.

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