JOSEPHINE, NAPOLEON'S EMPRESS.

(London: Metheun & Co., 1925). 216 x 140 mm. (8 1/2 x 5 1/2"). vii, [i], 246 pp. FIRST EDITION.

SUPERB CONTEMPORARY DEEP BLUE MOROCCO BY SANGORSKI & SUTCLIFFE FOR ASPREY, WITH MORE THAN 60 INLAYS, front cover with center medallion featuring inlaid teal blue crossed "J's," surrounded by gilt wreath and crown as well as inlaid pink flowers, lovely gilt floral sprays with more inlaid pink flowers in corners of both covers, raised bands, spine beautifully gilt and inlaid in the same floral vine pattern, DOUBLURES OF CRIMSON MOROCCO with inlaid blue flowers in corners, as well as an intricate series of patterned rules against deep blue morocco border, FRONT DOUBLURE WITH FINE INSET HAND-PAINTED IVORY MINIATURE OF JOSEPHINE, watered silk free end papers, gilt edges. In a slightly scuffed but sturdy and attractive morocco-backed plush-lined folding cloth box, gilt titling on spine. With 12 illustrations (all photographs of portraits), as called for. A CHOICE BINDING IN IMMACULATE CONDITION.

Our sumptuous binding would no doubt have pleased the subject of this work, known for her exquisite taste and love of beautiful things. When she met and captivated Napoleon Bonaparte in 1795, Josephine de Beauharnais (1763-1814) was a Martinique-born widow of an aristocrat who had died in the Reign of Terror. Josephine married the general in January of 1796, despite the fact that she was (a shocking) six years his senior. In this biography, the British writer C. S. Forester (1899-1966), best known for his beloved Horatio Hornblower series, portrays the empress with great sympathy. Sanford V. Sternlicht notes that in telling the dramatic story of her rise to the imperial throne and her fall when she was unable to produce an heir for the emperor, "Forester almost treats Josephine as a fictional character as he finely draws a portrait of a poorly educated but clever woman who . . . rolls with the punches of fate and outlives her foes." The so-called "Cosway" binding, featuring handsome morocco inset with one or more painted miniatures, apparently originated with the London bookselling firm of Henry Sotheran about 1909. It was in that year that G. C. Williamson's book entitled "Richard Cosway" (dealing with the British miniature painter of that name, 1742-1821) was remaindered by Sotheran and presumably given this special decorative treatment. The name "Cosway" was then used to describe any book so treated, whoever its author. Although the artist of our miniature is unidentified, the work here is remarkably well done, with carefully painted detail showing the empress at the prime of her life, bedecked with emeralds, pearls, and rubies, but with a sadness in her large brown eyes that foreshadows the heartbreak to come.
(ST17769j)