BARBIER, ANTOINE-ALEXANDRE (1765-1825, LIBRARIAN TO NAPOLEON). DISSERTATION SUR SOIXANTE TRADUCTIONS DE L'IMITATION DE JéSUS-CHRIST, DEDIéE à SA MAJESTé L'IMPéRATRICE ET REINE. -- JEAN-BAPTISTE MODESTE GENCE (1755-1840). CONSIDéRATIONS SUR LA QUESTION RELATIVE à L'AUTEUR DE L'IMITATION. PARIS: A. EGRON FOR LEFèVRE, 1812.
8O (205 X 125 MM). WOVE PAPER. (LIGHT FOXING.)
BOUND FOR EMPRESS MARIE-LOUISE BY FRANçOIS BOZéRIAN, signed at foot of spine Bozerian jeune, the dedication binding executed in Paris in the year of publication: gold-tooled red straight-grained morocco, two sets of double fillets and vine border on sides, arms of Marie-Louise richly mantled and surmonted by the imperial crown on sides, floral and pointillé tooling in compartments of spine, roll-tooled turn-ins, light-blue silk liners, gilt edges. Modern cloth case.
Provenance: Marie-Louise, Empress of the French (1791-1847, r. 1810-15), by bequest to -- the elder Archduke Rainer of Austria (1783-1853, Viceroy of the Italian dominions), by descent to Archduke Franz Salvator, in whose Vienna palace Marie-Louise's library was rediscovered by Martin Breslauer -- Hans Fürstenberg (1890-1982), bookplate, acquired from Breslauer in Berlin in 1931.
LARGE-PAPER ISSUE limited to very few copies, reimposed from 12o to 8o. THE DEDICATION COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION. As the imperial librarian mentions in his dedication, few works have been as popular or seen as many translations as De imitatione Christi. As the bibliographer of anonymous texts (see lot 82), Barbier was naturally concerned with this devotional work, whose authorship was much debated until Thomas à Kempis' autograph manuscript was identified. Barbier sticks to bibliography, but in the volume's secondary text Gence, the former archivist of the Dépôt des Chartes, revives the contemporary attribution to Jean Gerson.
Fine bindings done for Marie-Louise during her short reign as Empress are EXTREMELY RARE, as most are now shelved at Malmaison, Joséphine's house! The binding shows the younger Bozérian at his most accomplished and is in VERY FINE CONDITION. Quérard I, 178-179.