(Paris: Société des Beaux Arts, ca. 1895). 270 x 200 mm. (10 5/8 x 7 7/8"). xix, [i], 21-139,  pp.Preface by Anatole France. ONE OF 20 LETTERED COPIES OF THE EDITION DE DEUX MONDES (this copy lettered out of sequence with a stamped red star).
SUMPTUOUS AZURE CRUSHED MOROCCO, LAVISHLY GILT AND INLAID in the Art Nouveau style, covers with large central fleur-de-lys in gilt and lilac morocco within an elaborate frame of lily bouquets and garlands inlaid in lilac, orange, and white; raised bands, spine gilt in compartments, the smaller ones at head and tail with an inlaid lilac fleur-de-lys, large central compartment with a spray of lilies in orange and white, and two compartments with gilt titling; very wide turn-ins with elaborate gilt floral and foliate decoration enclosing BURNT ORANGE MOROCCO DOUBLURES, front doublure featuring an oval inset of white kidskin with a hand-colored engraving of a female nude, ivory watered silk endleaves, blue marbled flyleaves, top edge gilt, other edges untrimmed, partially unopened. WITH 61 ILLUSTRATIONS BY PAUL AVRIL, comprised of 20 IN THREE STATES: plain, India-proof, and colored, and one in single state, all with tissue guards. Spine faintly sunned, otherwise A FINE COPY, as fresh and bright as one could hope for.
This is a fine luxury volume attractively printed on Japanese vellum with immense margins, beautifully bound in inlaid morocco, and well illustrated with a series of engravings (in multiple states) that were considered to be some of the most attractive of the period. Featuring gallant drawings by the celebrated illustrator Avril (1849-1928), this substantial novel tells of a regicide undertaken to restore the honor of a queen in ancient Greece. Édouard-Henri (later changed to Paul) Avril studied art in various Paris salons, including the École des Beaux Arts. According to Ray, Avril "was a witty and ingenious artist," and a prolific one as well. His greatest achievement is considered to be his illustrations for the first edition in French of "De Figuris Veneris" (a manual of classical erotology). Théophile Gautier (1811-72) was one of the most popular writers of his time and a noted champion of art for art's sake. The Société des Beaux Arts produced opulent volumes, notable for the fine printing on deluxe paper stock, illustrations by noted artists of the day, and sumptuous bindings with many inlays and gilt. While the bindings were unsigned, they were clearly produced by one of the premier Belle Epoque ateliers. The present handsome English language edition appears from time to time in the market, but not normally with plates in multiple states and rarely in such an animated and perfectly preserved binding. (ST17129-049)
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PJP Catalog: 79.110