(London: Richard Bentley, 1851). 175 x 115 mm. (6 7/8 x 4 1/2"). Two volumes.
EXCELLENT CONTEMPORARY NAVY BLUE MOROCCO, GILT, BY SMEERS (stamp-signed on front turn-in), covers with French fillet border, raised bands, spines attractively gilt in compartments with floral centerpiece and curling cornerpieces, densely gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt (expert repairs to tail of spines). Each volume with an engraved frontispiece portrait of a prima donna. Front pastedown with engraved bookplate of Freiherr Maximilian von Goldschmidt-Rothschild; verso of frontispieces and title pages with ink stamp of Stadtbibliothek Frankfurt am Main; verso of titles also with stamp noting (in French) restitution by the city of Frankfurt pursuant to the Act of 28 January 1952. Spines gently sunned, a touch of wear to joints, otherwise A FINE SET, clean and fresh internally, in lustrous bindings, and with few signs of use.
This attractively bound history of musical drama celebrates European beauty and culture while also providing a link to some of the darkest days of the 20th century. A new edition of Hogarth's "Memoirs of the Musical Drama" (1838), the text traces the origins of musical theater and opera in the countries named in the title and offers comments on the contemporary state of the art. DNB notes that in addition to being Charles Dickens' father-in-law and an early promoter of the novelist's career, Hogarth (1783-1870) was "a man of liberal sympathies and considerable learning, . . . a just, outspoken, and generous critic." He served as secretary of the Philharmonic Society of London for 14 years, and was the lead music critic for the "Illustrated News." Binder Isidore Smeer (1834-96) was a Belgian who spent his career (1865-90) in Paris, where he was among the leading binders of the day, and did a great deal of work for the publishing house of Firmin-Didot. Our copy was once in the collection of banker, patron of the arts, and collector Baron Maximilian von Goldschmidt-Rothschild (1843-1940), a scion of the Goldschmidt banking family who had married a Rothschild heiress, becoming the richest man in the German Empire. As a Jew, he was forced by the Nazi government to sell his Frankfurt mansion and its contents, and the present volumes landed in the Frankfurt City Library. After World War II, the Allied High Commission set up a Supreme Restitution Court in the Federal Republic of Germany to oversee return of looted property; the stamps in our book indicate the property was returned by the library, presumably to one of the baron's surviving children, who had found refuge in Switzerland. (ST15048)
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PJP Catalog: NY20BF.034