(Paris; [s. l.]: [s. n.], 1775). 255 x 168 mm. (10 x 6 5/8"). 2 p.l., 18, , 8 pp. FIRST EDITION of first work.
ELEGANT LATE 19TH CENTURY RED MOROCCO BY ÉMILE MERCIER (stamp-signed "Mercier s[uccesseu]r. de Cuzin" on front turn-in), covers with graceful, undulating dentelle frame formed by volutes, fleurons, flowers, and many small tools, raised bands, spine panels with fleuron centerpieces and volute cornerpieces, gilt titling and turn-ins, all edges gilt, marbled endpapers. ENGRAVED THROUGHOUT, six vignettes in the first work engraved by Delaunay and Ponce after Moreau le Jeune, and two vignettes in the second work engraved by Gaucher after Marillier. A Large Paper Copy. Front free endpaper with morocco bookplates of Georges Wendling and Carlo de Poortere. Cohen-de Ricci 140 (second work), 141 (first work). Faint toning throughout (perhaps washed?) but paper still thick and textured, offsetting from leather bookplates on verso of front free endpaper, but A BEAUTIFUL COPY, the binding unworn and glittering with gilt, and the wide-margined interior clean and fresh.
Elegantly bound, using massed tools to form undulant dentelles in the style of Derôme, this volume is beautiful inside and out. In addition to the animated and elegant binding, the chief pleasure of the book lies in the engraved text by Drouet and the elegant engravings after Jean-Michel Moreau "le Jeune" (1741-1814). Ray says that the work done by Moreau during the 1760s "showed him to be the equal of the established rococo masters Boucher, Eisen, and Gravelot" and that in his work during the 1770s, "he carried all before him." Despite its title, the second work is actually an excerpt entitled "L'Espérance" from Berquin's larger, two-volume work, "Idylles," also published in 1775. This part of the volume features two domestic scenes after Pierre-Clément Marillier (1740-1808), characterized by Ray as "among the most accomplished and abundant of eighteenth-century illustrators" whose "designs are characterized by grace, liveliness, and firmness of drawing." The lovely and well-preserved binding was executed by Émile Mercier, assistant and then celebrated successor to François Cuzin (d. 1890). The work of Cuzin was so well known and so highly esteemed that he was responsible for establishing what was called the "Cuzin style," and that Cuzin tradition was sustained in its finest form by Mercier, who signed bindings from this period (as here) "Mercier s[uccesseu]r de Cuzin." Best known for his didactic children's books, Arnaud Berquin (1749-91) here renders in verse Rousseau's popular "Pygmalion," but with a twist. Whereas in the original story from Ovid, the gods conspire with Pygmalion to bring his sculptures to life, here our central character animates Galathée without divine aide; also, in contrast to his undiscriminating love as depicted in Ovid, Pygmalion pledges his eternal fidelity to her alone in the present version. Although this is not an impossible book to find, it is rarely encountered with such extensive margins and in a binding as lovely and well preserved as the present one. (ST12881)
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PJP Catalog: 71.150