18 November 2014
[VAN MAELE, Martin (1863-1926).] La grande danse macabre des vifs. Parts 1-4 [all published]. No place: no publisher [perhaps by the author, or by Chevrel, c. 1905-1909.]
Folio (290 x 185 mm). Complete with 4 engraved title pages, printed in bistre and black, and 40 un-numbered engraved plates. (Some marginal soiling, some plates with repaired punch holes in the margin.) Mounted on stubs and bound in later full roan, the upper side titled in gilt within a gilt-ruled design repeated in blind on the lower side, flat spine ruled, tooled and lettered in gilt, endpapers printed in green and gilt with an all-over foliate motif; cloth slipcase (spine rubbed with repaired splits near the spine ends, slipcase rubbed at the corners).
FIRST EDITION OF THIS VAN MAELE MASTERPIECE. A VERY RARE COMPLETE SET. The Grande Danse is a unique work of unbridled fantasy, displaying rich surrealism, and stark contrast between intense darkness and comic levity. This important work was reprinted often, with the various editions usually confused: this is the correct first edition, with the plates un-numbered, and printed in black only on strong paper. The titles of the first two parts give the edition size as one hundred copies but, according to Pia, all were not printed, with copies practically impossible to find 'anywhere in the world'. The first title is numbered 44, and the second 36, with the others un-numbered as issued. Pia Enfer 590.
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