An Unusual Cosway-Style Binding Because Containing a Signed Inset Portrait Done Years before the Book it Adorns


(London and New York: Harper & Brothers, 1906). 212 x 138 mm. (8 1/2 x 5 1/2"). xi, [1], 349, [1] pp. New and Revised Edition.

VERY PRETTY DARK BLUE CRUSHED MOROCCO, GILT, BY BAYNTUN (stamp-signed on front turn-in), covers with elegant Art Nouveau-style gilt frame, UPPER COVER WITH INSET 19TH CENTURY OVAL MINIATURE PORTRAIT of Madame Récamier (signed "Renoir" in the background) under glass, raised bands, spine compartments with gilt frames matching those on covers, gilt lettering, taupe watered silk endleaves, all edges gilt. In a blue buckram clamshell box. With color frontispiece portrait, as called for, and EXTRA-ILLUSTRATED WITH 16 PLATES, six of these in color, all with tissue guards. Isolated faint spots of foxing, but a splendid copy, clean, fresh, and bright internally, in a binding that looks like new.

This account of the great French beauty and the distinguished literary and political figures who populated her lively salon is elegantly bound in the Cosway style, with a beautifully rendered miniature based on the most famous portrait of Récamier gracing its front cover. The "Cosway" binding, with painted miniatures inlaid in handsome morocco, apparently originated with the London bookselling firm of Henry Sotheran about 1909, the year G. C. Williamson's book entitled "Richard Cosway" was remaindered by Sotheran and presumably given this special decorative treatment in order to promote sales. The name "Cosway"--referring to the British miniature painter, Richard Cosway (1742-1821)--was then used to describe any book so treated, whatever its subject. Miniatures for the earliest Cosway bindings were executed by Miss C. B. Currie, who is known to have worked between 1912-40, usually from designs by J. H. Stonehouse that were executed by the Riviere workshop. Other prominent binderies, chiefly Sangorski & Sutcliffe and Bayntun, began to produce their own versions of the popular style. The Bayntun firm was founded in Bath in 1894 and is now the last of the great Victorian trade binderies still in family ownership. Among the great English workshops of the Edwardian "golden age" of lavish bindings, Bayntun has the distinction of being the only one located outside London's West End to be sought after by bibliophiles. In 1939, Bayntun took over the esteemed Riviere firm, founded in 1829. The portrait here is, unusually, signed. "Renoir" is not the great Impressionist, but a talented 19th century miniaturist who specialized in portraits of figures from the Napoleonic era, some produced in partnership with an artist named Dupré. Jeanne Françoise Julie Adélaïde Récamier (1777-1849), known as Juliette, was not only beautiful, but also intelligent, charming, and a gifted hostess whose salon drew luminaries from the arts, literature, and politics. Among her close friends were the famed salonnière Germaine de Staël, the writer François-René de Chateaubriand, and the political activist Benjamin Constant. Portraits of her associates have been added to this work.

Price: $8,500.00