([Paris: Joseph-Gérard Barbou], 1776). 215 x 135 mm. (8 1/2 x 5 1/4"). Three volumes.
ELEGANT 19TH CENTURY BROWN MOROCCO, GILT, BY JOLY FILS (stamp-signed on front turn-ins), covers with French fillet border, raised bands, spine compartments densely gilt with complex fleurons, drawer handle tools, and circlets, intricately gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers, gilt edges. Engraved title pages, three engraved vignettes, and three engraved plates after Moreau le jeune. Cohen-de Ricci, p. 604. Lightly washed and pressed in keeping with bibliophilic fashion at the time of binding, one title page with small corner tear, otherwise A FINE SET, clean and still crisp internally with ample margins, and the scarcely-worn bindings quite lustrous.
This is a finely bound copy of singer and playwright Pierre Laujon's songs "About Society" and "About Folly," with illustrations of "ravishing grace" that Cohen-de Ricci considers among the best efforts of Jean Michel Moreau. Laujon (1727-1811) wrote and performed in musical reviews and ballets, where his efforts attracted the attention of the Count of Clermont and the Prince de Condé, who hired him to direct their festivals and pageants. The songs here were composed for these "society festivals," gently mocking the frivolous, naughty behavior of the elite. The accompanying illustrations showing beautifully dressed courtiers and bon-vivants are the work of Moreau le jeune (1741-1814), deemed by no less than Gordon Ray to be "the greatest name among French illustrators of the 18th century." The graceful bindings here were done by one of the great bookbinding houses of France. After apprenticing in the provinces, Antoine Joly (1838-1917) moved to Paris, found employment with the celebrated Léon Gruel, later formed a partnership with Thibaron in 1874, succeeded him 11 years later, and, in 1892, turned the business over to his son Robert (1870?-1924), who signed his work "Joly fils." According to Duncan & DeBartha, "An excellent gilder like his father, Robert designed and produced a range of classical covers." The trifecta of light-hearted songs, elegant engravings, and luxurious bindings endow this set with a great deal of French charm. (ST12954)