More than 50 Pleasing Pencil Sketches by the Disputed French King, In a Gorgeous Binding Featuring a Lovely Painting under Glass


(Austria and Italy: 1845-46). 274 x 352 mm. (10 3/4 x 14"). [55], [26] (blank) leaves.

VERY STRIKING CONTEMPORARY PURPLE MOROCCO, covers with sumptuous gilt and painted border enclosing a multi-patterned frame stamped in blind, lower cover with blind-stamped panel, UPPER COVER WITH ORIGINAL PAINTING ATTRIBUTED TO TONY JOHANNOT, encased in a metal frame and protected by a glass plate, with metal catch plates and locking clasp (original key included), raised bands, compartments densely gilt and painted, gilt turn-ins, all edges gilt. WITH 55 ORIGINAL PENCIL DRAWINGS BY THE COMTE DE CHAMBORD, 36 of which are signed "H.," first six drawings mounted over a cut-out and with pencil-ruled frame, five of these with ink description of locale, two drawings with mounted tissue guards with pencilled notations, six drawings with inserted tissue guards with pencilled captions. Verso of front free endpaper with label that reads, "De la Bibliotheque / du / Comte de Chambord / (Henri V de France, duc / de Bordeaux) Né en 1820 / Acquise par Maggs Bros. Ltd. / de Londres"; front flyleaf with pencil inscription by Jaime de Bourbon, that reads: "54 [sic] dessins faits par mon oncle le comte de Chambord"; extra tissue guards, one of which is captioned in pencil, inserted loosely between blank leaves at rear. For Johannot, see: Ray, pp. 256-258; Benezit VII, 858. Upper board very slightly warped in one area, one corner slightly bumped, light offsetting on first six drawings, the occasional small marginal smudge, f. 52 with short marginal tear (not touching drawing), but A VERY FINE SPECIMEN, the binding amazingly well preserved, and the contents showing virtually no signs of use.

This unique album of original drawings by the pretender to the French throne, Henri, Comte de Chambord, features a most unusual and beautifully crafted binding with an original gouache painting attributed to the "king" of 19th century French illustrators, Tony Johannot, depicting subject matter obviously meant to flatter the aspirations of the would-be monarch. Henri (1820-83), was the disputed King of France (though never actually proclaimed as such) after the abdication of his grandfather, Charles X, and his uncle, Louis Antoine, in response to the July Revolution of 1830. The National Assembly eventually proclaimed Louis Phillipe of Orléans as king, causing the young Henri to flee the country, though he continued to claim his right to the throne throughout his life in exile. We can see his ambitions play out in the painting that graces the cover of the binding, in which a man (his face clearly modelled after Henri), wearing a suit of armor and red tunic, kneels before another armored figure who bestows the honor of knighthood upon him. The work is attributed to Johannot (1803-52), a sought-after painter and illustrator whom Théophile Gautier praised as "without contradiction, the king of illustration" (quoted by Ray, p. 257); Benezit notes that "his charming illustrations are worthy of being set alongside the best engravings of the 18th century." The drawings contained within this album, entirely the work of the Comte de Chambord, are surprisingly accomplished. According to the British Library, Henri was instructed from a young age by artist Charles Achille d'Hardivillier (1795-1840) a pupil of Jacques-Louis David who was employed by Charles X as drawing master. Each of the present drawings features an excellent sense of composition and scale, while the use of line is precise and reveals a particular flair for architectural renderings. The subjects include views of country villages and farmhouses, castles perched atop hills, scenic vistas, and a fine series of images depicting the mountainous region of Tyrol. These scenes are often sprinkled with figures going about their daily lives, lending convincing local flavor to the compositions. Our album comes with excellent provenance, having been in the Comte de Chambord's own library, which was inherited by his grand-nephew, Jaime de Bourbon, Duke of Madrid (1870-1931). Maggs Bros. acquired the library after the Duke's death, and the present item appears as no. 655 in their December 1937 catalogue. With a gorgeous binding, more than 50 skillful pencil sketches, and resounding historical association, this volume has a great deal to recommend it.

Price: $15,000.00