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Jean de La Fontaine (1621-95)
Jean de La Fontaine (1621-95)
Jean de La Fontaine (1621-95)
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Jean de La Fontaine (1621-95)
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Jean de La Fontaine (1621-95)


Jean de La Fontaine (1621-95)
Fables Choisies 1755-59
LA FONTAINE, Jean de (1621-1695). Fables Choisies, mises en vers. Edited by C. P. de Monthenault d'Egly. Paris: Charles-Antoine Jombert for Desaint & Saillant and Durand, 1755-1759.

The Lamoignon copy of the most deluxe issue of one of the most ambitious and successful of all illustrated books' (Ray), finely bound by the French Royal bookbinder. ‘Undoubtedly the most famous French illustrated book of the eighteenth century’ (Wormsley 59), the Oudry La Fontaine realises the vibrancy of Oudry’s original drawings, made while he was director of the Beauvais tapestry factory, remarkably interpreted as engravings by and under the direction of Cochin. ‘Never before had the French countryside been so comprehensively presented. …Cochin’s sure and experienced hand enhanced Oudry’s designs’ (Ray). In addition to the rich engravings is a significant series of wood engravings.

The Prospectus describes three issues on different paper: ordinary, ‘papier moyen de Hollande’; and très grand papier de Holland’, priced at 216, 252 and 288 livres, respectively. In addition, Cohen-de Ricci describes a fourth issue on even larger paper (trés grand papier de Hollande), copies of which are ‘fort rare et très recherché’. The Lamoignon copy belongs to this most deluxe issue and has the plate Le Singe et le Léopard in the first state without lettering on the banner (vol. III, facing p. 111).

The Lamoignon library was begun by Guillaume I de Lamoignon (1617-1677) and continued by several generations of the family. It was greatly enriched when the collection of Nicolas-René Berryer – including the Oudry La Fontaine – passed to his daughter, wife of Chrétien-François de Lamoignon. The Lamoignon library was sold in 1791, where this copy is lot 2731, described as ‘très -grand papier’. It subsequently entered the collection of the Earls of Warwick where it resided until its acquisition by the current owner. Many of the Lamoignon bindings are traditionally attributed to French Royal Binder Pierre Anguerrand, and the library is the earliest ‘to have the place and date of printing consistently tooled at the tail of the spine (on vol. 1 only in sets)’ (Barber, Waddesdon 474). Rochambeau, Bibliographie des Oeuvres de La Fontaine 86; Cohen-de Ricci 548; Ray, French 5.

4 volumes, printed on trés grand papier de Hollande, folio (495 x 328mm). Engraved and etched frontispiece and 275 plates after Jean-Baptiste Oudry by Cochin, Tardieu, Prévost, Chedel, Lempereur and others, 209 woodcut title vignettes, head- and tailpieces after Bachellier; engraved portrait of Oudry by J. Tardieu after V. de Largillière loosely inserted in vol. I. Among the watermarks is ‘Dupuy Fin Auvergne’. (Very occasional light toning, very occasional single or light spotting almost always marginal.) Bound by Pierre Anguerrand, French Royal Binder: contemporary French citron morocco gilt, sides panelled with fleurons at corners, flat spine gilt with Lamoignon shelf-mark label at each spine foot, label with edition details at foot of vol. I, gilt edges (very slight rubbing at extremities, tiny puncture on front cover of vol. II, discreet minor repairs at spine ends). Provenance: Nicolas-René Berryer (1703-62; name written in vol. III; in favour with Madame de Pompadour, Minister of the Marine, and passionate bibliophile, his collection passed to his daughter, who married:) – Chrétien-François de Lamoignon, Marquis de Basville (1735-1789; binding, booklabel, monogram stamp on A2 of each volume, shelfmarks) – Earls of Warwick.
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