LA FONTAINE, Jean de (1621-1695). Fables Choisies… ornées de figures lithographiques. Paris: Engelmann, 1818.
Two parts in one volume, oblong 2° (265 x 370 mm). 121 lithographic plates by Carle and Horace Vernet and Hipployte Lecomte. Contemporary red half morocco, spine double-ruled and -lettered in gilt (some light soiling and minor wear at extremities). Provenance: Fürstliche Fürstenbergische Hofbibliothek at Donaueschingen (small inkstamp on foot of title and verso of final leaf, paper library label at foot of spine).
FIRST EDITION OF LA FONTAINE’S FABLES TO BE ILLUSTRATED LITHOGRAPHICALLY, a superb early example of French lithography. The first lithographic presses were set up in Paris by Godefroy Engelmann (1788-1839) and Comte Charles Philibert de Lasteyrie (1759-1849), firmly establishing the vogue for lithography which pervaded graphic publishing in the early-Romantic period. “For this edition, commissioned by Englemann, Carle Vernet signed sixty-three lithographs, his son Horace nineteen, and his son-in-law Hippolyte Lecomte thirty-four.... [T]his is certainly one of the notable sequences of illustration for the Fables” (Ray). The elder Vernet’s work, in particular, exemplifies a pleasing fusion of the older neo-classical styles and the Romantic preoccupation with the gothic and picturesque. No copy is listed in BLC and NUC lists only the imperfect Library of Congress copy (lacking 3 or 4 plates) in the Rosenwald Collection. Ray French 99.