ORIGINAL ILLUSTRATED TRIAL SHEETS FOR COCTEAU’S PORTRAIT DE MOUNET-SULLY, 1945, ONCE BELONGING TO FAMOUS EXPATRIATE POET AND NOVELIST GLENWAY WESCOTT
COCTEAU, Jean. Portrait de Mounet-Sully. Paris: François Bernouard, (1945). Slim quarto, make-shift portfolio from the original self-wrapper, containing unbound trial sheets (one unopened), original glassine wrapper. $1500.
Original pre-publication sheets of line cuts by Cocteau, most before letters, four hand-colored in gouache by Cocteau, stamped number “16” and inscribed by "Cyril" to a member of the Shakespeare and Company literary circle: “Glenway [Wescott], in memory of Villefranche 1929, our 1st meeting and 40 years of enjoyment since. London 1970.”
Cocteau's tribute to Mounet-Sully—one of his "old idols" of the Paris stage (Crosland, 162). Mounet-Sully was a gifted tragedian who played all the major roles, including Hamlet and Lear, but who had a deep personal identification with Oedipus. "He was a born actor… only good when the part exactly suited his oriental and barbaric and somewhat ferocious temperament" (Coward, ix). Cocteau's book was published in a limited edition of 1942 numbered copies, illustrated with 16 hand-colored line cuts. These trial sheets show how Cocteau envisioned the final product, with russet and blue gouache coloring on five of the images. Text in French. This copy is inscribed by "Cyril" to Glenway Wescott. Wescott, a novelist, poet, and essayist, lived in Germany and France during the Interwar period and was quickly absorbed into the Shakespeare and Company literary circle. Wescott was the model for the character Robert Prentiss in Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. After meeting Prentiss, Hemingway's narrator, Jake Barnes, confesses, "I just thought perhaps I was going to throw up." In The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933), Gertrude Stein wrote, "There was also Glenway Wescott but Glenway Wescott at no time interested Gertrude Stein. He has a certain syrup but it does not pour." Wescott was openly gay in a time when that was uncommon and his longtime partner was Monroe Wheeler, Director of Exhibitions at MoMA and owner of a small publishing concern.
Inscription faint, illustrations crisp, small chips and tears to bottom corners of original wrapper and first few leaves, glassine chipped in several places. A wonderful copy in trial state.