The Alhambra

Artist: Alice Cordelia Morse (American, Ohio 1863–1961)

Author: Washington Irving (American, New York 1783–1859 Sunnyside, New York)

Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons (New York and London)

Date: 1892

Medium: Cream cloth covered boards with gold, green and blue decoration

Dimensions: 8 15/16 × 14 3/16 in. (22.7 × 36 cm)
Other: 8 15/16 x 6 in. (22.7 x 15.3 cm)
Other: 8 15/16 × 8 3/16 in. (22.7 × 20.8 cm)

Classification: Bindings

Credit Line: Transferred from the Library, 1956

Accession Number: 56.522.56


A leading New York late nineteenth century book-cover designer, Morse studied at the Woman’s Art School of the Cooper Union, then under John La Farge before working for Louis C. Tiffany as a painter and designer of stained glass. In 1887 she began to concentrate on book-covers, fufilling eighty-three commissions for New York commercial publishers by 1905. Putnam's companion gift books, "The Alhambra" and "The Conquest of Granada," both for works written by Washington Irving, are two of Morse's most elaborate designs. Each volume is bound in white plain-weave cloth and stamped in colors and gold, with the ornament recalling "Moresque Ornament from the Alhambra," no. 3, plate XLI in Owen Jones's famous "Grammar of Ornament." An example of this cover was shown at the Woman's Building at the World's Columbian Exposition at Chicago, in 1893.