18 November 2014
VAN MAELE -- [LIGNE, Charles Joseph, Prince de (1735-1814).] Sens devant derrière. N.p. [Paris]: Beloeil [i.e. Poulet-Malassis], n.d. [but 1867].
Duodecimo (195 x c.150 mm). EXTRA-ILLUSTRATED in the margins with 12 watercolours by Martin van Maële. Near contemporary blue half morocco, spine with raise bands, marbled endpapers. Provenance: neat inscription on a front blank and on the title in purple ink.
FIRST EDITION, A UNIQUE COPY ILLUMINATED BY VAN MAELE WITH TWELVE MAGNIFICENT WATERCOLOURS: some of these, including the shepherdess tending to her flock of penises, are among the best original work of this very imaginative artist. Martin Van Maele illustrated classics of literature, including Les Fleurs du Mal, but it is in his erotic work that Van Maele gives the full measure of his talent. He is a sharp observer of social mores, and his erotic scenes have a subversive, often surreal, character comparable to Goya. Finished illustrations by Van Maele are very uncommon: they are conspicuously absent from the Nordmann collection, which included only preparatory pen-and-ink drawings. Number 12 of 16 large paper copies printed on Holland, from an edition of 70 copies only. This edition is very rare: WorldCat locates just one example, at the Bibliothèque nationale de France (no illustrations); AE and ABPC record none at auction. Not in Dutel.
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