(Saint-Laud: Germain & G. Grassin, Imperimeurs-Libraires, 1893). 197 x 159 mm. (7 3/4 x 6 1/4"). 1 p.l. (title), 99 pp.,  leaves, -103,  pp. Text (and illustrations) mounted on stubs. FIRST EDITION. ONE OF SIX SPECIAL COPIES WITH EXTRA ILLUSTRATIONS (of a total of 30 copies, none for sale).
EXOTIC CONTEMPORARY "CUIR JAPONAIS" BINDING BY DURVAND (stamp-signed on front flyleaf), covers and smooth spine blind-stamped with a collage of tasselled medallions in various shapes decorated with Japanese scenes (featuring depictions of a pagoda, the procession of a dignitary, battle scenes, and an arching bridge), these hand-colored scenes covering the entire exterior surface, the whole framed by a gilt floral border; gilt-rolled turn-ins, Japanese-patterned brocade endleaves in shades of jade, crimson, and gold, top edge marbled and gilt, other edges untrimmed. Original paper wrappers bound in. In the original (slightly worn) maroon folding box with tab closure. WITH 49 SIGNED ORIGINAL WORKS OF ART DECORATING OR INSERTED IN THE TEXT, including 26 delicate watercolor designs on text leaves; six plates in gouache; two watercolor plates; one folding triptych in watercolor; eight pencil or pen and ink drawings; two richly embroidered leaves of red, purple, green, blue and black threads (one on hand-made Japanese paper with hand-painted accents, the other on Japanese silk); title page in color; frontispiece etchings by Madame Sylvestré and Emile Noirot; and a portrait of the author painted by Rochegrosse. Very slight wear to extreme ends of the joints, occasional minor offsetting from painted decoration, otherwise A VERY FINE COPY, with few signs of use.
A work apparently unrecorded in institutional records (and not, excepting our volume, recorded at auction), this is an excessively rare copy of a very obscure and peculiar artist's book, bound in an over-the-top, nearly ineffable binding by one of the best binders of the day. The text is a review of the "Salon de 1892," a gallery exhibition produced at Angers by the French Society of Friends of the Arts, the review taking the form of six humorous dialogues (which were first published in the "Journal de Maine et Loire"). Our author, the Parisian art critic Claude Eliot, determined to issue these pieces on their own in a very limited press run, with six unique copies featuring a singular binding and original artwork--as seen here. Lucien Durvand (1852-1924) established his Paris workshop in 1890. His bindings are distinguished by excellent workmanship, with figurative creations and incised and mosaic leather compositions being his trademark. In 1900, he was awarded a silver medal for his bindings at the Universal Exhibition. As the head of one of the finest workshops in turn-of-the-century Paris, he trained a number of talented artisans. According to Flety, he was devoted to improving the craft of binding right up to his death. The binding and illustrations here reflect the fashion for all things Japanese that swept Europe, and particularly France, in the wake of the opening of Japan by Emperor Meiji in 1868. Japanese art became a major source for modern French artistic inspiration, as seen in our extra illustrations. Founded in 1889 "for the purpose of artistic decentralization" (i.e., to demonstrate that there was more to art in France than the Paris scene), the Société des Amis des Arts d'Angers held a prominent place in the cultural life of the province of Anjou. The contributing artists here include some of the region's most respected, including Defaux (1826-1900), a pupil of Corot noted for his delicate style and responsible for this volume's in-text watercolor decorations; Georges Rochegrosse (1859-1938), successful in many media; Clement Bellenger, an esteemed wood engraver; Emile Noirot (1854-1924), his watercolor land, water, and seascapes respected for their technique and expressive feeling; and Mme. E. Sylvestré, a pupil of Regnault. Each is sympathetically mentioned in the text. (ST12519)
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PJP Catalog: 73.164