A Bibliophile's Edition of the Highest Order, in an Opulent Binding


(Paris: Louis Conard, 1906). 315 x 233 mm. (12 3/8 x 9 1/8"). 4 p.l., 93 pp., [1] leaf. No. 4 OF FIVE COPIES ON JAPON HAND-DECORATED BY THE ARTIST (from a total edition of 190).

SPLENDID CRIMSON MOROCCO, ELEGANTLY GILT, BY P. AFFOLTER (stamp-signed and dated 1911 on front doublure), covers with large gilt frame of Indian motifs, raised bands, spine panels similarly tooled in gilt, gilt titling, ROYAL BLUE MOROCCO DOUBLURES, ELABORATELY INLAID with pink, light blue, citron, pale green, gray, and ochre morocco in a design inspired by the book's illustrations, the curling strapwork and floral frame accented with lotus blossoms and stylized elephants, matching blue silk endleaves, marbled flyleaves, all edges gilt. Original paper wrappers bound in on tabs. In the original suede-lined slipcase edged in matching morocco. Title page and dedication with HAND-PAINTED DESIGNS BY THE ILLUSTRATOR, text with elaborate pink frames, with NUMEROUS VIGNETTES IN THE TEXT AND THREE FULL-PAGE PLATES by Georges Rochegrosse, printed in color then EMBELLISHED BY THE ARTIST'S HAND, AND WITH FOUR PROOFS of the opening illustration, one each in yellow, blue, and red, and one printed in all colors, the latter WITH THE ARTIST'S EXTENSIVE PENCILLED NOTES. Front flyleaf with engraved bookplate of G. Sémon. A SPARKLING COPY inside and out.

A bibliophile's edition of the highest order, this ultra-deluxe printing of a Symbolist tale boasts the artist's notes on original proofs of an illustration, hand-painted decorations to the title page and in the text, and exuberant embellishments to the chromolithographed illustrations--not to mention a greatly beautiful binding by a highly esteemed craftsman. An impoverished aristocrat, Villiers de l'Isle-Adam (1838-89) pursued a literary career in the bohemian Paris of the mid-19th century, finding a sympathetic cohort among the Symbolist poets, including Mallarmé and Baudelaire. The latter introduced the young count to the writing of Edgar Allan Poe, who became a major source of inspiration. The present tale of a warrior queen of Benares is an example of the "conte cruel" genre that Villiers de l'Isle-Adam developed, horrific and often bloody stories that reflect on ironic twists of fate. Such a twist is at the center of this story, when Queen Akëdysséril confronts the priest she had ordered to induce her rivals for the throne to commit suicide and executes him for the manner in which he achieved this goal. The vivid illustrations that bring this story to life are by one of the most popular Salon painters during the last two decades of the 19th century, Georges Rochegrosse (1858-1939), who was known for his often large-scale canvases and murals, not infrequently containing scenes of violent excess and carnage. "Akëdysséril" gives him ample opportunity to display the latter, and he has added further flames and dripping blood by hand to already dramatic scenes of destruction. Described by Duncan and De Bartha as one of the "most noted binders" in turn-of-the-century Paris, Paul Affolter (d. 1929) opened his workshop in 1880. Flety notes that he began his career producing "fairly routine work" for the bookseller Fontaine, but in 1894 he began to establish himself as a bibliophile's binder, and he became one of the go-to binders for collectors of luxurious Belle Époque productions like this. As was his custom, he incorporated designs from the illustrator's decorations for the covers and doublures here. In addition to its many other attractions, our volume has the distinction of being virtually unchanged from the day it left Affolter's atelier.

Price: $9,500.00