(Paris: H. Piazza, 1898). 355 x 253 mm. (14 x 10"). Two volumes. Translated by Marcel Devic. No. 16 OF 10 COPIES (numbered 11-20) on grand vélin d'Arches "Special" with additional suites of plates in color and black & white, from a total edition of 300.
IMPRESSIVE BROWN MOROCCO WITH CUIR CISELÉ PANEL BY CARAYON (stamp-signed on front turn-in), upper cover with large inset leather panel carved with lush tropical vegetation, raised bands, gilt titling, turn-ins with ornate gilt frame, brown watered silk endleaves, marbled flyleaves, all edges gilt, original pictorial wrappers bound in. Housed in a velvet-lined slipcase. Volume containing additional suites of plates bound in brown three-quarter morocco. With 141 woodcuts enhanced with hand-coloring or pochoir, including 5 full-page plates, and with two additional suites of 141 woodcuts each: one suite of colored plates on Japon and the second suite of plates in black on Chine. Monod 309; Carteret IV, 45. An immaculate copy in an unworn binding.
This is a deluxe example of Art Nouveau book arts, with thick, creamy paper, lavish illustrations, and a most attractive incised leather binding. The French Orientalist painter Étienne Dinet (1861-1929), spent years in North Africa, fascinated by the Arab people and their culture. He eventually converted to Islam and made a Hajj to Mecca. According to Duncan and DeBartha, Émile Carayon (1843-1909) "was one of the most versatile binders in Paris," producing bindings in a variety of materials, some, like the present example, with incised leather panels by Lucien Rudeaux or Gustave Guétant. The Orientalist design on the binding here is far more elaborate and richly textured that other examples from the Carayon atelier that were little more than lines carved into leather to depict a scene. Here, the artist has achieved a very pleasing three-dimensional effect by meticulously sculpting the panel to produce a dense tangle of exotic foliage, including remarkably realistic palms, banana plants, and cacti. The binding motif echoes Dinet's lush illustrations of the adventures of Antar, a Black Arab knight, the son of a Bedouin king and an African slave woman. Written in the 11th or 12th century, it is a romance in the chivalric traditions, as Antar overcomes obstacles and meets challenges in order to win the hand of the beautiful 'Ablah. Britannica notes that the tale "evolved out of a Bedouin tradition that stressed nobility of character and desert chivalry and of which 'Antar was made the epitome." Dinet's illustrations convey that character and courage, as well as the dramatic desert and its oases. One could not ask for a better copy than the present example, which shows no signs of use or age. (Lhi21039)