The Finest(?) Copy of the "Most Beautiful" 18th Century Illustrated Book, Magnificently Bound and Extra-Illustrated with Originally Rejected Plates


(Amsterdam [i.e., Paris: Barbou], 1762). 193 x 123 mm. (7 5/8 x 4 3/4"). With the often-missing 16-pp. "Avis au relieur" (instructions to the binder) at the end of volume I. Two volumes. First Printing of the Fermiers Généraux Edition, with both "Le Cas de Conscience" and "Le Diable de Papefiguière" in uncovered state.

SPECTACULAR CRIMSON MOROCCO INLAID TO A MOSAIC DESIGN REMINISCENT OF PADELOUP BY MARIUS MICHEL (stamp-signed in gilt on front doublure), covers with central floral spray inlaid in indigo, dark green, vermillion, citron, and light brown morocco within an elaborate inlaid rococo frame, raised bands, spine compartments framed in dark green morocco and with an inlaid central ornament decorated with gilt, gilt rosettes or drawer handles at corners, CITRON MOROCCO DOUBLURES with lacy gilt rococo frame, dark green silk endleaves, marbled flyleaves, all edges gilt. In leather-lined chemises trimmed with crimson morocco and matching morocco-lipped slipcase. SPLENDIDLY ILLUSTRATED WITH 171 ENGRAVINGS, consisting of: two frontispiece portraits of La Fontaine and Eisen, 57 VIGNETTES BY CHOFFARD, and 80 BEAUTIFUL PLATES AFTER CHARLES EISEN, as called for, and EXTRA-ILLUSTRATED WITH 32 PLATES, consisting of: two additional states of the portrait of La Fontaine, one additional state of that of Eisen, 16 "refused" plates (out of the 20 reported by Cohen), the only two plates re-engraved by de Longueil ("Le cocu beaten" and "Les Cordeliers de Catalonia"), a second state of the following seven plates: "Le faucon" (inverted), "Alix malade," "Nicaise" (inverted), "Féronde," "Le remède," "Le cas de conscience" (uncovered), "Le diable de Papefiguière" (uncovered), two plates from the suite by Basan ("Le plaisir inattendu"—another title for "Cas de conscience"—and "La cruche") and two plates in a significantly different version ("La mare du compère Pierre" and "Produire"). A Large Paper Copy. Cohen-de Ricci, cols. 558-70; Ray, "French" 26; Brunet III, 759; Tchemerzine VI, 378. ◆Faint offsetting from some of the engravings, but A MAGNIFICENT COPY, the text especially clean and fresh, and THE BINDING PRISTINE.

This is a superb copy, in a memorably striking binding, of one of the most acclaimed illustrated French books of the period, an item that Ray calls "the collector's book 'par excellence.'" Cohen-de Ricci begins 13 columns of description by pronouncing that, "among the illustrated books of the 18th century, this edition . . . as a whole is the most beautiful and the most agreeable." It is also generally accepted as the finest work of Charles Eisen (1720-78), Louis XV's court painter and drawing master to Madame de Pompadour. Bryan says that "almost all the important books published in France in [Eisen's] 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 substantial group of plates here, in Ray's words, is "the liveliest and the most adroit that [Eisen] ever drew. Thoroughly at home with the varied action of these lusty stories--their love passages, their intrigues, their practical jokes--he is also expert in choosing the moment in each that will best serve his purpose as an illustrator." Some 20 of the original engravings were rejected by the publisher, but our copy has 16 of these refused plates among its extra illustrations. The additional plates also include the two plates the publishers had re-engraved by Longueil--"Le Cocu battu" and "Les Cordeliers"--which Cohen-de Ricci deems far superior to those signed by Leveau and Baquoy. There are also variant states of nine other plates listed above, which are interesting to compare to the authorized versions. Our volume exhibits the work of one of the greatest binders of Belle Époque Paris, paying tribute here to a master binder of the ancien régime, Antoine-Michel Padeloup (1685-1758), the most outstanding artisan of his famous family of binders and Relieur du Roy to Louis XV. Much sought after by bibliophiles of the day, Padeloup's bindings always displayed a distinctive elegance, particularly in his mosaic work and rocaille tooling. Our binding combines rococo elements characteristic of Padeloup with floral decoration characteristic of "La Flore Ornamentale" style unveiled in 1878 by Henri Marius Michel (1846-1925). Considered the best binder of his generation as well as the founder of modern French bookbinding, Henri began his career in the workshop established by his father Jean in Paris in 1849, where they produced distinguished bindings in the prevailing historical styles for two decades, an education reflected in the son's work here. After the father's death in 1890, the firm came to even greater prominence when Henri began producing bindings in a completely new and original style that did nothing less than change the course of modern bookbinding in France. According to Duncan & De Bartha, Henri believed passionately "that bookbinding needed a new vocabulary of ornamentation in order to express the mood and spirit of contemporary authors." The "vocabulary of ornamentation" he developed was based on nature, the revolutionary "La Flore Ornamentale" style that would help define fin-de-siècle French binding. The outstanding condition here shows both the binding and the contents to their greatest advantage.

Price: $48,000.00