(Paris: Michel Lëvy frères, 1858). 190 x 125 mm. (7 1/2 x 5"). 3 p.l., 239 pp. Third Edition; First Edition with these Illustrations.
ELEGANT DARK BLUE CRUSHED MOROCCO, GILT, BY CHAMBOLLE-DURU (stamp-signed on front turn-in), covers with French fillet border, raised bands, spine compartments with centerpiece of two birds on a branch, scrolling cornerpieces with a tiny bird perched on top, gilt titling, turn-ins with flower-and-acanthus-leaf roll, plain and decorative gilt rules, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. Original orange paper wrappers bound in. With two frontispiece portraits, engraved dedication page with portrait, and 41 WOOD-ENGRAVED VIGNETTES, 34 of these BY E. MEISSONIER. Ray, "The Art of the French Illustrated Book" 256; Carteret III, 156; Vicaire II, 387. Minor offsetting to title page from engraved portrait, one opening with offsetting from ribbon marker, isolated tiny rust spots, but QUITE A FINE COPY, clean, fresh, and bright internally with ample margins, IN A SPARKLING BINDING with no signs of wear.
Handsomely bound and charmingly illustrated, this collection of "Tales of Rheims" is full of poetic praise for that French city, the surrounding countryside, and its best-known product, Champagne. Poet and raconteur Louis de Chevigné (1793-1876) was married to the only daughter of la Veuve Cliquot, head of the famed Champagne house, and he promotes the family wares enthusiastically here, beginning the work by proclaiming "The happiest country is that of Champagne! / Its exquisite wines perfume the mountains!" and ending with a verse that asks "Is there a wine more gay than Champagne? Happiness accompanies it everywhere." These effervescent verses are enriched with graceful vignettes, most of them by Ernest Meissonier (1815-91). According to Ray, "Meissonier is now remembered as a master of genre and military painting, but he was also a leading Romantic illustrator," as memorably demonstrated in the present work: "Chevigné's little stories in verse set in an earlier period are mild imitations of La Fontaine's Contes et nouvelles which feature for the most part the tribulations of old husbands and amorous priests. They would hardly be remembered today if it were not for Meissonier's delicate and precise vignettes. He had a style which made everything he touched interesting." Carteret agrees, calling this "one of the most beautiful romantic productions." The binding here is a perfect example of the kind of handsomely done French classical work produced for an extended period under the name of Chambolle. A rough contemporary of, and certainly the equal in technique to, binders like Trautz, Marius Michel père, Lortic, and Cuzin, the elder Chambolle served his apprenticeship under Hippolyte Duru and later formed a partnership with him, as is clear from the stamped signature on our volume. Chambolle's son continued the business when his father retired in 1898, and in her "Modern Bookbindings," Sarah Prideaux says of her contemporary, "Chambolle most worthily continues the traditions associated with the name of his father. . . . To him are confided the classics of former times, which he clothes in the styles appropriate to them, keeping to a simplicity of ornamentation which reveals great taste and feeling for composition." While copies of this work appear in the marketplace regularly, it is unusual to find one in such an attractive binding and in such desirable condition. (ST15904)
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PJP Catalog: Fine Bindings <$1,000.