(Paris: Chez l'auteur, an VI ). 201 x 125 mm. (7 7/8 x 4 7/8"). Four volumes. Third Edition.
HANDSOME LATE 19TH CENTURY DARK GREEN MOROCCO, GILT, covers bordered by multiple plain and decorative gilt rules, oblique daisy sprigs at corners, raised bands, spine compartments with central caged-bird ornament surrounded by small tools, curling cornerpieces, gilt titling, turn-ins with decorative roll, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. With 27 ANIMATED ENGRAVED PLATES after Marillier, Monsiau, Monnet, Demarne, Dutertre, and Marguerite Gérard. Cohen-de Ricci 660; Ray, "French" 83. Rear boards of two volumes with negligible dark spots, a touch of rubbing to extremities, text lightly pressed at time of binding (but not washed), a couple of plates faintly browned, occasional minor marginal smudges or stains, but still a fine set, clean, crisp, and bright internally, with excellent impressions of the plates, and in sparkling bindings that make a lovely appearance on the shelf.
Licentious, sensational, and immediately successful, this trio of novels chronicling the sexual escapades of a young libertine is enhanced here by spirited illustrations that still manage to leave much to the imagination. Originally printed in 1787-90, "Les Amours" is comprised of three separate parts: "Une Année de la Vie du Chevalier de Faublas," "Six Semaines de la Vie du Chevalier de Faublas," and "La Fin des Amours du Chevalier de Faublas." The series follows our young protagonist from the time he is a teenager, relating numerous seductions, affairs with women of all social classes, and, perhaps most intriguing, his penchant for cross-dressing (including, at one point, dressing as a nun). Ray singles out this work among illustrated books of the post-Revolutionary period, saying that "apart from 'Les Liaisons Dangereuses' of 1796, this book possesses the liveliest plates of any French novel of the period." He goes on to note that despite a sharp increase in pornographic material following the French Revolution, "the artists chose . . . to concentrate on the novel's abundant episodes of action and dramatic confrontation" rather than seizing on opportunities for "suggestive designs." Though never overtly erotic, many of the illustrations here portray a wonderful sense of intimacy--a quality perhaps best felt in the engravings designed by Marguerite Gérard (1761-1837), a highly successful student of renowned Rococo artist Jean-Honoré Fragonard, and a leading French genre painter. Our author, writer and politician Jean-Baptiste Louvet (1760-1797), was a member of the Jacobin Club from the early days of the French Revolution, eventually siding with the ill-fated Girondins--a group of republican thinkers who helped bring an end to the monarchy, but who were eventually undermined and persecuted during the Reign of Terror. Louvet escaped Paris in 1793, becoming one of the few condemned Girondins to elude the guillotine. (ST15532)
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PJP Catalog: Sets1.057