(Paris: Chez Le Boucher, 1773). 214 x 136 mm. (8 3/4 x 5 1/2"). 2 p.l., iv, 280 pp. (without "Héro et Léandre," as usual).Translated by Julien Jacques Moutonnet de Clairfons. First Edition with these Illustrations.
LOVELY RED MOROCCO, GILT, BY CHAMBOLLE-DURU (stamp-signed on front turn-in), covers with French fillet border, raised bands, spine gilt in compartments with rose sprig at center, curling floral cornerpieces, gilt titling, densely gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. Engraved frontispiece and 25 charming and delicate engraved illustrations by Jean Massard after Charles Eisen. Cohen-de Ricci 79; Brunet I, 254; Graesse I, 113. For the binding: Flety 40. Lower half-inch of joints just starting to show wear, three minor stains and one short scratch to upper board, but a fine and pretty copy, the text fresh and smooth, with deep impressions of the type, with rich impressions of the engravings, with ample margins, and with a lustrous binding.
This is a very attractive copy of the first printing of an anthology of French versions of classical poetry, described by Cohen-de Ricci as "one of the most elegantly illustrated books of the 18th century." Charles Eisen (1720-78) was Louis XV's court painter as well as drawing master to Madame de Pompadour. Bryan says that "almost all the important books published in France in his time contain his exquisite plates," which "he engraved with a light point and with striking originality." He "took his inspirations direct from nature, but add[ed] something of the ideal, after the manner of Watteau and Boucher." The text contains biographies of and works by four important Greek poets: Anacreon (sixth century B.C.), Sappho (b. ca. 612 B.C.), Bion (third century B.C.), and Moschus (second century B.C.). 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." (ST16314)