“NO MORE GRAPHIC ACCOUNT EXISTS OF ANY AGE”: FROISSART’S CHRONICLES OF ENGLAND, FRANCE, SPAIN, AND THE ADJOINING COUNTRIES, 1849, BEAUTIFULLY EXTRA-ILLUSTRATED WITH 72 COLOR LITHOGRAPHS HEIGHTENED BY HAND
FROISSART, John; HUMPHREYS, Henry Noel. Chronicles of England, France, Spain, and the Adjoining Countries. BOUND WITH: Illuminated Illustrations of Froissart. Selected from the MS in the British Museum. BOUND WITH: Illuminated Illustrations of Froissart. Selected from the MS in the Bibliotheque Royale, Paris. London: William Smith, 1842. Two volumes. Thick octavo, contemporary full red morocco sympathetically rebacked at an early date, elaborately gilt-decorated covers, raised bands, all edges gilt. $5800.
Later edition of Johnes’ celebrated translation of Froissart’s important history of 14th-century Europe, including a Life of Froissart, an essay on his works, and a critical look at his Chronicles, with illuminated extra title page and 116 in-text wood-engraved illustrations. This copy splendidly extra-illustrated with the complete suite of 72 finely hand-colored chromolithographs—many heightened with gilt and silver—reproduced from miniatures in Froissart manuscript editions by Henry Noel Humphreys, bound in appropriately throughout the text. Two volumes beautifully bound in full morocco-gilt.
"Froissart might be called the great interviewer of the Middle Ages. The newspaper correspondent of modern times has scarcely surpassed this medieval collector of intelligence. He traveled extensively in the various countries of Europe; he conversed with gentlemen of rank everywhere; and he had the remarkable knack of persuading those about him to divulge all he wanted to know. He learned the details of battles from both sides and from every point of view. He delighted in the minutest affairs of every cavalry skirmish, of the capture of every castle, and of every brave action and gallant deed. He lived from 1337 to about 1410, and wrote chiefly of contemporaneous events. The Chronicles are universally considered as the most vivid and faithful picture we have of events in the 14th century. As a picture of the most favorable side of chivalry, the work has no equal" (Adams, Manual of Historical Literature, 334-35). "There has never been any difference of opinion on the distinctive merits of this great work. It presents a vivid and faithful drawing of the things done in the 14th-century. No more graphic account exists of any age. No historian has drawn so many and such faithful portraits" (Britannica). The Chronicles were originally circulated in manuscript form, with the first printed version appearing around 1498 in Paris. The first edition in English, undertaken at the suggestion of Henry VIII, was translated by John Berners and published in 1523-25. Johnes' modern translation first appeared 1803-05. This later edition of the text is bound with first editions of Henry Noel Humphreys' two volumes of color plates, Illuminated Illustrations of Froissart (London, 1844, 1845), bound in appropriately throughout. With the advent of chromolithography, Humphreys became a "modern illuminator," able to replicate the same rich tones of medieval manuscripts. He faithfully reproduced miniatures from a French manuscript and an English one, each penned within 100 years of the original date of composition. Bookplate; owner ink signatures.
Mild foxing to first few and last few leaves in each volume; text and plates generally quite clean. A touch of rubbing to corners. A splendid production, beautifully bound, in near-fine condition.