(Nice and Paris: l'Imprimerie Nationale de Monaco, 1954). 241 x 191 mm. (9 1/2 x 7 1/2"). 4 p.l. 11-247,  pp.,  leaf (colophon). No. IX of XXV COPIES reserved for the collaborators and the friends of the artist (in addition to 700 regular copies).
Contemporary green crushed morocco by Jean Santin (stamp-signed on front turn-in), smooth spine with gilt titling, gilt-ruled turn-ins, pale green watered silk endleaves, all edges gilt. With title page vignettes, frontispiece at the beginning of each work, and numerous illustrations in the text by Jean Gradassi, all hand-colored by the atelier of Edmond Vairel using the pochoir technique, WITH AN EXTRA SUITE OF THE 45 ILLUSTRATIONS bound after the text, and with AN ORIGINAL VERSION of an illustration from Don Juan INSCRIBED BY THE ARTIST to "Madame Hicks" and identified by him on the verso, bound in at front. Pages ruled in red, two half titles printed in red. Joints a little rubbed, spine uniformly sunned, just a hint of soiling to the covers, otherwise very fine, the binding lustrous and the text immaculate.
Done on high quality Japanese vellum, this is an especially pleasing deluxe edition--with richly colored pochoir illustrations--of two of Molière's great comedies. Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, known as Molière (1622-73), is generally credited with having "created modern French comedy by giving it a serious basis, where there had previously been little but farces and comedies of intrigue on Italian or Spanish models." ("Oxford Companion") Both works here caused great controversy upon their theatrical premieres. "Le Tartuffe" is one of the playwright's great masterpieces, telling the story of a religious hypocrite who uses his false piety to insinuate himself into the home of a benefactor and take over all of his property. It was decried for its calumnies against religion and was banned by the king from public performance in 1664. The libertine title character in "Don Juan" also mocks religion, primarily by his promiscuity and adultery, and this play, though popular, was suppressed by the authorities as well. The illustrations by Jean Gradassi (1907-89) capture the lascivious Tartuffe and swashbuckling Don Juan perfectly. The rich coloring was done by Edmond Vairel, known for the pochoir stencilling of one of the great livres d'artistes of the 20th century, Henri Matisse's "Jazz." (ST12683-024)
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PJP Catalog: 67.285