A Large Paper Copy of One of the Most Impressive French Illustrated Books of the 18th Century


(Amsterdam: Wetstein & G. Smith; Rotterdam: Jean Hofhout, 1734). 375 x 265 mm. (14 3/4 x 10 1/2"). 4 p.l. including portrait and frontispiece, x, xxvi (i.e. xvi), 395, [1] pp. Like most copies, ours lacks the suppressed material designed to follow page 395. First Printing of this Edition. ONE OF 150 COPIES IN FOLIO FORMAT.

FINE CONTEMPORARY RED STRAIGHT-GRAIN MOROCCO, covers with palmette roll border, central panel with gilt-ruled frame and lozenge accented with bead and lozenge roll, spine gilt and inlaid with olive morocco bands tooled with gilt chalice and leaves between the double raised bands, spine compartments with central urn ornament surrounded by small tools, calligraphic flourishes at corners, gilt titling, turn-ins with elaborate gilt roll featuring leaves and moths, blue watered silk endleaves, all edges gilt (lower board with three older repaired patches). In a modern marbled paper slipcase. Ornamental headpieces and tailpieces, title page decorated with vignette, author portrait by Drevet after Vivien, and 25 more plates illustrating the tale engraved by Folkéma and others, predominantly in classical style, three (including the frontispiece) designed by Picart, 16 by Dubourg, and six by Debrie, with original tissue guards; 45 vignettes serving as headpieces (24) and tailpieces (21), designed by Dubourg and Shenk, one engraved folding map, and extra-illustrated with a portrait of Fenelon by Jean Coraboeuf dated 1920. Text with ornamental border throughout. Front pastedown with the bookplate of Arthur Meyer. Cohen-de Ricci 381-82; Ray 1; Brunet II, 1214; Graesse II, 564. A few darkened patches on boards, small chip to olive band at tail of spine, corners gently bumped, occasional minor foxing or light browning, otherwise QUITE AN EXCELLENT COPY, the binding altogether pleasing with only insignificant wear, the text clean and fresh, with rich impressions of the plates.

This is a very well-preserved copy of the luxury version of one of the most impressive French illustrated books of the 18th century, offered in a Neoclassical binding appropriate for its contents. Ray says that in our volume "all the formal elements of the mid-18th century French masterpieces are present." He describes the 25 plates as "stately and elaborate" and singles out Picart's frontispiece (which he reproduces in one of the rare full-page illustrations in his book) as being "developed with exceptional spirit and inventiveness." Not only the handsome plates, but also the leafy frames of each text page, the large type, and the many charming headpieces and tailpieces make it an elegant object that provides for a visually memorable experience. Fénelon (1651-1715) wrote this utopian work for Louis XIV's grandson, whom he was employed to tutor. The book was designed to give the future ruler more farsighted political, social, and economic ideas than he might otherwise have met with. Unfortunately, the boy died before he could come to power, and Fénelon fell into disgrace, partly because "Telemaque" reflected badly on the government of Louis. According to Graesse, our "beautiful" edition, supervised by the marquis de Fénelon, is much more correct than previous printings, as a great many errors have been corrected and lacunae have been filled in. While the unsigned binding is not quite up to the level of émigré binders Kalthoeber and Staggemeier & Welcher, it is in their style and is certainly impressive enough to look handsome on the shelf. Former owner Arthur Meyer (1844-1924) was a French press baron whose collection focused on fine bindings and beautiful illustrations.

Price: $8,500.00