LES DOUZE CÉSARS.

(Paris: F.-L. Schmied, 1928). 292 x 200 mm. (11 1/2 x 7 7/8"). 4 p.l., 326 pp., [4] leaves. No. 165 OF 175 COPIES, SIGNED BY SCHMIED.

Dark blue crushed morocco by Gonin (stamp-signed on upper pastedown), spine lettered in gilt, turn-ins with silver fillet border, royal blue leather doublures and matching moiré silk endleaves, original wrappers preserved. Housed in a later suede-backed slipcase. With decorative title and section titles printed in gold, and 23 COLOR ILLUSTRATIONS BY SCHMIED, comprised of nine vignette tailpieces, and 14 full-page plates, including 12 portraits. Ritchie 26. Cracks, with some looseness, along the joints (no doubt because of the heavy boards), covers with light polish residue, original wrappers heavily foxed, but the plates and text clean and fresh.

This is the very appealing Schmied livre d'artiste version of Suetonius' classic biographies of the first 12 Roman emperors, originally written in 121 A.D. Immensely talented in all areas of book production, François-Louis Schmied (1873-1941) was one of the most important, original, and active figures in the world of artists' books. He was born and studied in Geneva, moved to Paris at 22 to make a living as a wood engraver, and joined the French Foreign Legion in his mid-40s, losing an eye in the Great War. It was after 1919 that Schmied began to focus primarily on the production of "éditions de luxe," and in the mid-1920s, he and his eldest son Théo managed an atelier that issued a distinguished series of sumptuous works in very small editions, largely for members of elite French bibliophile societies. The Roman biographer Suetonius (69-140?) served for some years as a secretary to Hadrian, but he was dismissed for an indiscretion involving the emperor's wife, after which he retired from public life in order to devote himself to literature. He wrote a considerable number of biographies as well as works on antiquities, natural science, and even linguistics, but all that have survived are his "Lives of Famous Men" (in part) and the present "Lives of the 12 Caesars." Our work contains biographies of the Roman rulers from Julius Caesar through Domitian, with formulaic descriptions of family history, public career, physical appearance, private life, and vices and virtues. The work is of great interest to us mainly because of its material relating to the emperors' often scandalous private lives, material to which Suetonius had access in the imperial archives, and material that would otherwise have been lost.
(ST12683-100)

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PJP Catalog: XMAS16.051

LES DOUZE CÉSARS. FRANÇOIS-LOUIS SCHMIED, Illustrator. SUETONIUS.