Friday, January 14, 2011

A Very Sweet 1001 Nights

by Stephen J. Gertz

ASSOURD, René (binder). Le Livre des Mille Nuits et Une Nuit.
12 books in 12 volumes, each extravagantly gilt decorated
in arabesques and other traditional Islamic design motifs.

Pupil of his uncle, the great art nouveau bookbinder Charles Meunier (1865 - 1940), and former first gilder at Chambolle-Duru, Rene Aussourd started his own business in 1912.

Léon Georges Jean-Baptiste Carré (1878 - 1942 ) was an Orientalist painter and French illustrator. He studied in Paris with Leon Bonnat and Luc-Olivier Merson. 

One of 144 color llustrations by Léon Carré.

He was a double winner of the Chenavard prize.  He exhibited at the Salon of French artists in 1900, at the Salon des Independents, and made his first trip to Algeria in 1905.

He won the Villa Abd-el-Tif award in 1909, and permanently settled in Algiers. From 1911, he showed at the Salon de la Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts, and the Salon d'Automne.  He worked primarily in oil, gouache and pastel.


The Thousand and One Nights. Traduction littérale et complète du texte arabe par le Dr. J.-C. Mardrus. Illustrations de Léon Carré. Décoration et ornements de Racim Mohammed. Paris: L’Edition d’Art H. Piazza, 1926-1932. 12 parts in 12 volumes large 4to [298 x 228 mm]. 144 hors-texte illustrations in color and gold, some covered with silky papers, and 85 ornaments. 

Bound in full red morocco, sides richly adorned with a beautiful gilt-stamped panel with oriental design different for each volume, spines ribbed decorated with gilt fleurons, date on foot of spines, top edge gilt, triple gilt fillet and blind-stamped filet on the inside, corner pieces with gilt rose-like ornaments, red watered silk endleaves, wrappers illustrated in color heightened with gold and spines preserved. Cases. Binding signed and numbered by René Assourd.

Carteret, Le trésor du bibliophile: livres illustrés modernes, 1875 à 1945, IV, p. 281.

“Beautiful publication much sought-after and highly rated.” (Carteret).

Images courtesy of Camille Sourget Livres Anciens, with our thanks.

I highly recommend to Booktryst readers Ellen Mazur Thomson's Aesthetic Issues in Book Cover Design 1890-1910 in the Journal of Design History, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp. 229-245 for an excellent discussion of binders Charles Meuniere, Marius Michel, Cobden-Sanderson, etc.

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