Paris: Auguste Blaizot & Fils, 1938. Degas, Edgar. Limited Edition. Hardcover. Number 142 of 325 copies, in a custom binding, folio size, 161 pp., in French. Fine. Item #CNJL973
The only book considered to have been illustrated by Degas with illustrations by him specifically made for this volume. Degas' close friend Ludovic Halevy, writer and librettist of Carmen, "documented Paris backstage activity in short stories gathered into one volume called La Famille Cardinal. Degas illustrated these fictional adventures of Pauline and Virginie Cardinal and their parents. Halevy, however, failed to recognize the greatness of these monotypes", which remained unpublished until 1938 when they were purchased at auction, reduced and reproduced by photogravure for this work (N.B., from web site of Virginia Commonwealth University, published January 15, 2014).
Lavishly bound by the Parisian bookbinding atelier of Gruel, with their stamp on the front turn-in. Sarah Prideaux, one of the noted women bookbinders of the period, stated that the Gruel atelier "is the oldest established of all described in this paper [i.e.,Bookbinders and Their Craft], founded in 1811. From its earliest days the business has always had the highest reputation, both for initiative in artistic matters, as well as for irreproachable execution in the detail of its many-sided achievements. It has indeed been the nursery of all the chief binders of the time, and no other house in any country has a roll-call of such distinguished names".
___DESCRIPTION: Binding of full rust-coloured morocco, lavishly decorated on both the front and back boards with gilt and black in a pattern of swirls and dots recalling the gaiety and footlights of the Parisian stage; the spine has four raised bands, gilt lettering, the compartments decorated with gilt and black rules and dots; the edges of the boards have thin black and gilt lines, the turn-ins are decorated to match the boards. All edges are gilt, rose-coloured watered silk doublures, with the original wraps bound in. Title page in red and black; chapter headings, initial capitals, and page numbers in red. Note that the book is entirely in French. Illustrated with 32 photogravures of monotypes by Degas, the etchings done by Maurice Potin, with an additional two in-text etchings; of the 32 photogravures, six are in full colour. Limited edition of 325 copies (plus 25 not for sale), this no. 142; folio size (approximately 12.5" tall), 161 numbered pages. Protected by a slipcase with matching leather at the opening, marbled paper sides.
___CONDITION: Fine; the leather binding is soft and supple with absolutely no edgewear, the gilt is bright, the silk doublures are clean, the colour true, no wear or fraying, the interior pages are also clean and bright, the volume is free of prior owner markings - a magnificent book on so many levels in pristine condition. The slipcase is overall fine, strong and sturdy, with perhaps a hint of rubbing to the paper covering at the corners.
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