Celebrating the Beautiful Courtesans of Belle Epoque Paris, Appropriately Bound in Elegant Art Nouveau Style


(Paris: Collection des dix, Romagnol, [1912]). 310 x 215 mm. (12 1/8 x 8 1/2"). 127, [3] pp. No. 243 OF 300 COPIES, this one of 168 on Arches vellum paper, with the finished state of all the illustrations.

ELEGANT BURNT SIENA MOROCCO, INLAID AND GILT, BY LOUIS GUÉTANT (stamp-signed on front turn-in), covers with gilt fillet border, blind-tooled frame with inlaid and gilt floral spray at center of vertical sides, corners with curling gilt floral vine sporting inlaid pink and ivory morocco roses and brown leaves, smooth spine, two compartments similarly framed with inlaid ivory morocco blossoms, lower compartment with onlaid circle of red morocco at center, turn-ins framed in gilt and blind with inlaid purple morocco lotus flower at corners and three blue daisies strung along the sides, marbled endpapers and flyleaves, top edge gilt, other edges untrimmed. Original paper wrappers bound in. Housed in matching marbled paper slipcase. WITH 40 SENSUOUS ETCHINGS OF BELLE ÉPOQUE COURTESANS BY LOBEL-RICHE, 39 of them full-page. ◆Joints faintly rubbed (though well masked with dye), opening page of text with overall light browning, one plate with short marginal tear (well away from image), but quite a fine copy--clean, fresh, and bright internally in a refined binding showing almost no wear.

This work celebrates the beautiful courtesans of Belle Époque Paris, the "grandes horizontales" immortalized in the works of Colette, Proust, and Zola. Illustrator Alméry Lobel-Riche (1877-1950) follows these "Dolls" and "Luxury Trinkets" through their typical day: the careful toilette--bathing, manicure, makeup--in preparation for a walk through the Bois de Boulogne, a fitting with a couturier, a shopping trip to one of the great department stores, an ice-skating lesson, tea with a confidante, dinner at Maxim's or the Pré Catalan, and erotic rendezvous with the men who financed this luxurious lifestyle. The Swiss-born Lobel-Riche studied at the Écoles des Beaux Arts in Montpellier and Paris, and exhibited paintings at the Salon de Paris before becoming a successful illustrator and engraver. Ray says, "Lobel-Riche's overwhelming preoccupation was the feminine nude"; the artist's gift for depicting the female form seductively combined with the aura of decadent sensuality that pervaded his work made him an ideal illustrator for Baudelaire, de Musset, and the present work. Rather than creating illustrations for an existing text (as is usual), Coquiot's narrative was produced to fit with the voluptuous etchings. As secretary to the sculptor Auguste Rodin, writer and art critic Gustave Coquiot (1865-1926) was immersed in the lively creative scene in turn-of-the-century Paris and was quite familiar with the flourishing demi-monde where artists and writers mingled with wealthy men and their mistresses. Like the couturier-clad courtesans of "Poupées de Paris," our book is fashionably clothed in a lovely Art Nouveau-style binding using a novel shade of mauve; it was executed by Lyon craftsman Louis Guétant, who was active from the turn of the 20th century until about 1950.

Price: $2,800.00