(Paris: Simon Raçon et Comp. 1780 [but mid-19th century]). 146 x 114 mm. (5 3/4 x 4 1/2"). 3 p.l., 47 leaves.
Very pleasing 19th century maroon crushed morocco, Jansenist, by Capé Masson-Debonnelle (stamp-signed on front turn-in), covers with central gilt skull and with crossbone cornerpieces, raised bands, spine panels alternating gilt skull and crossbones, gilt titling, densely gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. In a fine black quarter-morocco folding box. WITH 47 COPPER ENGRAVINGS BY CHRISTIAN VON MECHEL, 46 of these after the original designs of Holbein, one (a double-page plate) added by Mechel. A quarter inch at the top of front joint a bit rubbed, occasional faint offsetting from plates, otherwise A VERY FINE COPY, especially clean, fresh, and bright internally, with rich impressions of the plates, and in a lustrous, essentially unworn binding.
This is an attractively bound mid-19th century reprint of a beautifully engraved 18th century edition of Holbein's famous "Dance of Death." Mortimer says that Holbein's "Figures of Death" contributed to the traditional "Dance of Death" genre a sharpening of the humor and satire and a heightening of the drama, so that the figures became part of a fully realized scene, not just members of the traditional processional dance. Christian von Mechel (1737-1817) was a prominent Basel engraver and art dealer whose clients included Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Emperor Joseph II; his reproductions of Holbein's engravings have long been admired. Mechel based his work here on drawings said to be by Holbein which were in the collection of Prince Galitzin at the imperial court in Vienna. It was not until the 1970s that experts determined these drawings were not, in fact, by Holbein, but were copies by Dutch artist Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640). Capé (d. 1867) was one of the most distinguished binders in France in the middle years of the 19th century, and he was especially well known for the delicacy of his work. He was the binder to the Empress Eugenie, and Béraldi calls him "the Bozérian of the second Empire." Masson and Debonnelle joined the Capé firm later in the master's career, and continued working as bookbinders until 1885. (ST12537)
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PJP Catalog: CABF17.030