Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Splendid Beauty Reads Book En Plein Air (1895)

by Stephen J. Gertz

A nude woman, languid upon a sheet in a pastoral setting, with a gown loosely draped across her lower body, is deeply engrossed in a book.

The book she's reading is, presumably, Longus' Daphnis and Chloe, specifically the Edition de Deux Mondes published in Paris, 1895 by the Société des Beaux Arts and illustrated by Raphael Collin. 

In the movie version, the camera would track over the woman's shoulder and move into the book, whereupon the text would dissolve into scene one. Here, she is actually in the book, a comely prelude to the text, in three states of dishabille ala book, color, sepia, and red tint.

Then we meet Chloe...

...And Daphnis and Chloe.

They are bound together in love and leather within a sumptuous azure crushed morocco binding lavishly gilt and inlaid in an Art Nouveau design, the covers with a large central fleur-de-lys in gilt and maroon morocco within an elaborate frame of lily bouquets and garlands inlaid in maroon, orange, and white. 

The spine is gilt in compartments, the smaller ones at head and tail with an inlaid maroon fleur-de-lys, with a large central compartment containing a spray of lilies in maroon and white, and two compartments with gilt titling.  The inner boards feature broad gilt dentelles with elaborate floral and foliate decoration.

Burnt orange morocco doublures grace the inner covers, the front doublure featuring an oval inset of white kidskin  with a hand-colored engraving of a female figure. The endpapers are of ivory moiré silk.

ABPC notes that only one copy of this very strictly limited edition of Daphnis and Chloe, translated into English from the 1559 French translation (Les amours pastorales de Daphnis et Chloe) of the original Greek by Jacques Amyot, tutor to the sons of Henry II and Bishop of Auxerre, and identically bound, has come to auction since 1975.

A luxury volume attractively printed on Japanese vellum with boldly wide margins, it is gorgeously illustrated with a series of engravings that were considered to be some of the most attractive of the period. In a list published in 1895 and cited by Gordon N.. Ray in The Art of the French Illustrated Book 1700-1914, the Collin-illustrated Daphnis and Chloe, first issued in 1890, came in fourth in a survey to determine the ten best modern French illustrated books. 

The edition under notice appears to have been produced a few years later, as part of a series of  deluxe volumes of literary works illustrated by some of the best contemporary artists, and issued by the Sociétié de Beaux Arts in a Salon Édition of 500 copies, an Édition Artistique of 75 copies, and, as here, an Édition de Deux Mondes of 20 copies. The identical  binding design was used for the Sociétié's 1895 twenty-copy Édition de Deux Mondes of Flaubert's A Simple Heart.

Louis-Joseph-Raphael Collin aka Raphael Collin (1850 -1916) was a French painter and illustrator associated the symbolist movement. He studied at the School of St. Louis, then at Verdun, where he was a classmate of Jules Bastien-Lepage, who grew to become a close friend. Collin later went to Paris where he became a student of William Bouguereau, then joined his friend Bastien-Lepage in Cabanel. Collin was a genre painter of nudes, portraits, decorative compositions, and a book illustrator. He exhibited at the Salon beginning in 1873 and won several awards.

LONGUS. Daphnis and Chloe. With Illustrations by Raphael Collin. Preface by Jules Claretie. Paris: Société des Beaux Arts, 1895.

Edition de Deux Mondes, limited to twenty copies only, this copy indicated with a star. Quarto (10 5/8 x 7 7/8 in; 270 x 200 mm). xvi, 166 pp. Printed on velin. With eleven in-text illustrations in three states (full color, black and white, and single color) and twelve plates in two states, one color and one black and white, all with tissue guards.

Cf. Ray, The Art of the French Illustrated Book 1700-1914, p. 377.

Images courtesy of David Brass Rare Books, with our thanks.

1 comment:

  1. Nice post. It shows how rich could a literature be in terms of translation.Through translating shows the rich blend of knowledge and culture in a society.Whether in French translation or in any foreign language translation helps one to get acquainted with the thoughts, traditions, principles and actions of the people from the region.Learning different languages is hard but fun.We were able to grasps the culture of every languages we translate.A lost in translation or any translation should not hinder us to know exactly about one's history and culture


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