(Paris: J. Techener, 1860). 197 x 121 mm. (7 3/4 x 4 3/4"). 2 p.l., xlv, [iii], 268,  pp. Nouvelle Edition, THE ONLY COPY PRINTED ON VELLUM.
LOVELY CONTEMPORARY TAN MOROCCO, SUMPTUOUSLY GILT, BY HARDY (stamp-signed in gilt on front turn-in), covers gilt with wide dentelle frame composed of many floral and scrolling tools, gilt arms of the 12th Duke of Hamilton (1845-95) at center of each cover, raised bands, spine richly gilt, one black and one maroon morocco label, all edges gilt. WITH FIVE INSERTED SEPIA PEN-AND-WASH DRAWINGS THAT WERE USED AS THE ORIGINAL ARTWORK FOR THE ENGRAVINGS in this work. Each page ruled in gold. Brunet I, 1705. Three tiny dark spots on front cover, a hint of hump-backed bowing to boards (as is typical of books on vellum), but AN EXTREMELY FINE COPY, the binding lustrous and virtually unworn, and the vellum quite clean, fresh, and bright.
This is a beautifully bound unique copy of an appropriately luxurious edition of the memoirs of a noblewoman raised at the court of the Sun King. In the text, Madame de Caylus (1673-1729) offers an insider's account of perhaps the most glittering court Europe has ever known. As the cousin of Madame de Maintenon, Louis XIV's morganatic wife, she was privy to all the intrigues surrounding the royal household. The fine drawings here are: the portrait of Madame de Caylus after a painting by Daullé in her lifetime; Madame de Montespan acting as Femme de Chambre to Mademoiselle de la Vallière; the Reconciliation of the King with Madame de Montespan; the Promenade of Madame de Maintenon and Madame de Montchevreuil in the Forest of Fontainebleu; and the Prince de Condé seized by smallpox. This work was first published by Voltaire in 1770, but the present edition is considered the best. The Hardy atelier produced luxurious volumes, many of them armorial, for a range of 19th century connoisseurs. (Our original owner, William Alexander Louis Stephen Douglas-Hamilton, 12th Duke of Hamilton, was a Scottish nobleman whose life was spent mostly pursuing amusements and whose nearly squandered fortune was saved when his horse won a big race.) Among other connections in the bibliopegic world, Hardy employed Jean Marius Michel as a gilder near the start of his career. Given this item's extraordinarily handsome binding, its distinction as the only copy printed on vellum, and the presence of the drawings used for the engravings to illustrate the work, one could scarcely imagine a more special copy. (ST12273)
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PJP Catalog: 73.129