(Paris: Chez Baudry, 1832). 219 x 156 mm. (8 5/8 x 6 1/8"). 2 p.l., xxiv, 395 pp.Translated by Madame Du Fresne.
FINE CONTEMPORARY GREEN STRAIGHT-GRAIN MOROCCO, GILT, BY HERING & MULLER (their ticket on front pastedown, and stamp-signed in gilt by Muller at tail of spine), covers framed by multiple gilt rules with decorative cornerpieces, center of each cover with large arms of Louis Antoine, Duke of Angoulême, (the last) Dauphin of France (1775-1844); flat spine gilt in one long and one short panel tooled with a guilloche roll highlighted with rosettes and fleurs-de-lys; gilt titling, densely gilt turn-ins, textured pale yellow endpapers, all edges gilt. Text in French and English on facing pages. Front pastedown with the large bookplate of the Comte de Chambord (calling himself Henri V of France and indicating--in print--that this volume was acquired from Maggs Brothers); front free endpaper with an ex-libris ticket without identification, and the octagonal black morocco bookplate of Michel Wittock; half title and p. 71 with inked ownership stamp of Don Jaime de Bourbon, duc de Madrid. Fleeman 59.4R/TF/31. Faint foxing on the majority of leaves (first half dozen leaves a bit more affected), a few leaves with other minor discoloration, front free endpaper and first four leaves creased at lower right, spine slightly and uniformly sunned, covers with insignificant small abrasions, but generally A VERY APPEALING COPY, the text fresh and clean, and the binding with lustrous leather, bright gilt, and only very minor signs of use.
This is an obscure French translation of Samuel Johnson's most popular narrative, our copy with distinguished provenance and in a lovely binding. Written in the evenings of a single week to help pay for the funeral of Johnson's mother, "Rasselas," first printed in 1759, became the most thoroughly translated and disseminated work by Johnson during his lifetime. Marked by wisdom, humanity, melancholy, and even humor, the novel accomplishes the impressive goal of being artistically successful, even uplifting, while demonstrating the somber truth that there is no genuine happiness in the world. Our edition is a new translation that, according to Fleeman, was done by one Mme. Du Fresne, of whom little is known except that she died at 20. With the death in 1831 of Charles Hering Jr., the Hering bindery was carried on by his brothers James and Henry, the former being head of the workshop. Frédéric Guillaume Muller (d. 1836) then joined the Herings from 1830 to 1834, after which he purchased the tools of the recently deceased Joseph Thouvenin, set up business for himself, and gained recognition on his own, earning the bronze medal for work shown at the 1834 exhibition. As can be seen here, the short-lived Hering & Muller portion of the business produced bindings characterized by the same elegance and care in execution evident in the work of earlier iterations of the Hering firm. The fact that our book's original owner was the last Dauphin of France suggests something of the high repute attached to the Hering name at the time, even outside England. After the Dauphin owned it, the volume came into the possession of the Comte de Chambord (1820-83), who, in the confused warp and woof of 19th century French politics, became (the disputed) King of France as Henri V for one week (2-9 August 1830), after his grandfather and uncle abdicated in the wake of the July Revolution. The 10-year-old Henri was himself forced into exile for some 40 years, after which he was invited to ascend to the throne; this elevation was aborted, however, (and the French monarchy came to its final end) when Henri insisted as a precondition the use of the older red fleur de lys design for the country's flag (as opposed to the tricolor adopted in 1794). There must have been at least one intermediary owner between the Dauphin, who died in 1844, and the Comte de Chambord, who could not have owned it before 1853, the year that Maggs Brothers was founded. Our volume was ultimately acquired by Michel Wittock, whose collection of European bindings, from the Renaissance down to the present day, was one of the grandest ever assembled. Reflecting 60 years of discriminating curation, the library was auctioned (in part) through a notable four-part sale at Christie's Paris in 2011. (ST12690)
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PJP Catalog: 73.092