[DELACROIX, Eugène, (1798-1863), illustrator]. GOETHE, Johann Wolfgang von (1749-1832). Faust. French translation from the German by Albert Stapfer. Paris: Goyer & Hermet, 1828.
2o (409 x 278 mm). Letterpress half-title, title and text. Frontispiece portrait of Goethe and 17 lithographic plates by Motte after Delacroix (some staining).
FINE CUIR-CISELÉ BINDING BY CHARLES MEUNIER, signed and dated 1920, crushed red morocco, inserted in upper and lower cover are large rectangular plaques of ox leather (369 x 235 mm) signed "Ch. Meunier 20," heavily incised, upper cover with large central portrait of Faust under the title of the play, surrounded by rich ornamental designs including the head of an owl, lower cover with large central portrait of Marguerite within a design of a carved wooden frame and the head of Mephistopheles, four double raised bands on spine, gilt lettered and tooled in compartments, gilt edges, multiple gilt fillet on turn-ins, silk doublures and linings, original wrappers preserved; half morocco chemise and slipcase.
FIRST EDITION of Delacroix's illustrations to Goethe's Faust, "THE MOST SIGNIFICANT ILLUSTRATED BOOK OF ITS TIME" (Ray). It was not the literary merit of Faust that inspired Delacroix to illustrate the work, but rather a performace of the play he attended in London in 1825. Originally intended for publication as an album by Charles Motte later that year, the lithographs were not issued together until three years later with Albert Stapfer's translation. Through preliminary circulation, Delacroix used the lithographs "to astonish the middle class," intending them as a manifesto for Romanticism in art. According to Ray, "the book met with the expected hostile reception ... Traditional critics were outraged that he was given to exaggeration." The one early viewer who did appreciate their greatness, however, was Goethe himself, who upon first seeing them in 1826 wrote, "One must acknowledge that this M. Delacroix has a great talent, which in Faust has found its true nourishment ... I have to agree that M. Delacroix has surpassed the scenes of my writing." Ray further credits the later livres de peintres with establishing the work as the first link in their own tradition. Ray French 143.