[BINDINGS]. MICHEL, Marius (1846-1925), binder. – Eugéne GRASSET (1845-1917), illustrator. Histoire des quatre fils Aymon. Paris: Gillot, 1883.
4° (279 x 225 mm). Decorated throughout with color-printed photo-relief illustations by EUGÉNE GRASSET. Contemporary cuir-ciselé binding by Henri Marius Michel, black morocco gilt, upper cover with large inserted panel of calf, heavily incised, central 'Merovingian' style lettered title above a sword on a cartouche, surrounded by a design of flowers, armor and a griffin (after an illustration on page 29), portions stained brown and some of the floral and armour decoration highlighted in gold and green, lower cover plain, spine in six compartments with five raised bands, blind lettered in one, gilt edges, wide turn-ins, corners decorated with stylized green oak leaves, and brown morocco inlaid bands stamp signed "Marius Michel", elaborate woven multi-colored silk doublures and linings of an allover diaper design within a lozenge pattern, marbled endpapers, original wrappers bound in (fore-edge of binding very slightly bumped); slipcase.
LIMITED EDITION, number 116 of 100 copies on papier de Chine, of a total edition of 200, with illustrations by one of the fathers of Art Nouveau. A TURNING POINT IN THE HISTORY OF BOOK ILLUSTRATION, with lavish photo-relief or chromolithographic illustrations throughout, here employed for the first time. The illustrations in the book were given "the most luxurious form that a book can achieve" (preface p.6). "Charles Gillot persuaded Grasset to provide designs in the 'Merovingian' style through which he could demonstrate the possibilities of chromolithography for book illustration... Histoire des quatre fils Aymon proved an inexhaustible source for other artists as Art Nouveau became the dominant style if the period" (Ray). Binding a copy of this book was a challenge for several celebrated binders including Charles Meunier and Charles Marceilly. The above is a very fine copy, in a cuir-ciselé binding, which Henri Marius Michel, according to Beraldi and Breslauer, "re-invented... after studying late medieval boxes decorated in this technique, producing the first fully developed specimen in 1881" (Breslauer Catalogue 110 226). Ray The Art of the French Illustrated Book 357.