(Paris: Imprimerie de Monsieur [volumes I-III]; Didot le jeune [volumes IV-V]; Chez Gay, Ponce, Belin [volumes VI-XII], 1789-). 314 x 238 mm. (12 3/8 x 9 3/8"). 12 volumes.
BREATHTAKING EARLY 20TH CENTURY RED STRAIGHT-GRAIN MOROCCO, GILT AND VERY ELABORATELY INLAID IN THE ROMANTIC STYLE, BY CHARLES DE SAMBLANX (stamp-signed in gilt at tail of spines), covers with beautifully intricate frame formed by multiple gilt rules and ornate gilt cornerpieces incorporating a stylized inlaid shell of brown morocco and a stylized fleur-de-lys in orange (along with much swirling and floral elaboration), large central arabesque with floral and leafy inlays in olive, yellow, and orange morocco; spines with two wide raised bands featuring a gilt frame and titling, the large central spine compartment with much gilt and inlaid morocco flowers, smaller compartments at head and tail of similar design, densely gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers, edges rough trimmed. WITH 300 FINE ENGRAVED PLATES AFTER THE DESIGNS OF MARILLIER AND MONSIAU and a folding map of the Holy Land engraved by Tardieu, each plate with a guard leaf preceding it, these leaves all with a projecting red leather tab on the fore edge. Cohen-de Ricci 935-36; Sander 145; Ray 47; Brunet I, 887. Boards with a couple of tiny dark spots, joints with the most trivial signs of wear, minor offsetting from each of the small leather tabs, other isolated negligible imperfections internally, but AN EXTREMELY FINE SET IN EVERY WAY, the text clean and fresh, the plates richly impressed, and the most impressive bindings very lustrous and with virtually no signs of use.
This is an outstanding copy of the rare larger format quarto edition of a Bible famous for its engraved illustrations, offered here in remarkably handsome bindings. According to Ray, the skill and energy of the painter and illustrator Pierre-Clémént Marillier (1740-1808) earned him "a position in the front rank of book artists." Ray calls Marillier "among the most accomplished" illustrators of the century, and he says--and this would be appropriate for the plates in our volumes--that "nearly all of his designs are characterized by grace, liveliness, and firmness of drawing." Beginning with volume IV, Marillier was assisted by Nicolas-André Monsiau (1754-1837), whose substantial corpus of book illustrations defies easy categorization and is consequently underappreciated. Ray agrees with Portalis' favorable assessment of Monsiau's work as having a special "'bonhomie,' observation of nature, and feeling, often lacking in his rivals, which gives his productions something piquant and unexpected." The unusual and rather charming use of tabs as a location guide to the engravings was either an innovation or a clever borrowing by our binder Charles de Samblanx (1855-1943); we have never seen this before in any book from any period. Apprenticed at age 11, de Samblanx had a distinguished career extending over several decades, and he worked in a variety of period styles, classical and Romantic, sensitively reproducing the bindings of previous centuries. Many of his bindings are now in the Royal Museum of Mariemont in Belgium. The complex inlaid design of the present set, realized with impeccable skill using the highest quality materials, provides memorable evidence of the level of de Samblanx's imagination and precision of execution. In addition to the aesthetically pleasing features of this set, its printing provides a window into the most turbulent period in French history. Production on this work began in the final year of the ancien regime in the workshop of Pierre-François Didot, the printer to "Monsieur," brother of the king. As revolution gave way to republic, the imprint changed from the royal "Imprimerie de Monsieur" to simply "Didot le jeune" (Pierre-François' son and heir), before being taken over by the engraver Ponce and the publishers Belin and Gay. On the title pages, the illustrators' honorific went from the courteous "Monsieur" to the egalitarian "Citoyen." For many years considered the definitive French version of the Scriptures, the translation used here is that of French humanist Louis-Isaac Lemaistre (or Le Maistre) de Sacy (1613-84). While the present 12-volume version of the Bible is seen from time to time in the octavo edition, the quarto version rarely appears in the marketplace, let alone in a binding as splendid as this one. Just two complete quarto sets are listed in ABPC since 1975. (ST12575)
Add to Cart Price: $17,500.00
PJP Catalog: 71.158