“THE REGENT’S BOOK”: 1745 DAPHNIS AND CHLOE, ILLUSTRATED BY PHILIPPE D’ORLEANS, REGENT OF FRANCE
LONGUS. Les Amours Pastorales de Daphnis et Chloé. [Paris]: no publisher, 1745. Small octavo, contemporary full speckled polished calf, elaborately gilt-decorated spine, red morocco spine label, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. $3200.
Second edition of this delightfully illustrated French translation of Longus’ classic, the first pastoral prose romance, with engraved title page and 29 fine copper-engravings, 13 double-page, after original drawings by Philippe duc d’Orléans, Regent during the minority of Louis XV. A very handsome copy in contemporary French calf-gilt binding.
“The reputation of this little book derives primarily from the story of how it came into being. In 1714 Prince Philippe d’Orléans made a series of drawings for the story of Daphnis and Chloe under the tutelage of Antoine Coypel, the father of Charles-Antoine Coypel. At the beginning of his Regency the drawings were engraved by Benoît Audran and published in [the 1718] edition of Longus’ pastoral novel… The prestige conferred by the participation of Philippe d’Orléans made Daphnis et Chloé a fixture in the collections of French bibliophiles (it came to be known as ‘the Regent’s book’), and it is often found in elaborate bindings” (Ray). Written by Longus in the second or third century A.D., Daphnis and Chloe is considered the first pastoral prose romance; the translation into French is by Jacques Amyot, with notes by A. Lancelot. The very scarce 1718 first edition is reputed to have consisted of only 250 copies. Two editions were issued in 1745, with the same illustrations as the 1718 edition—though re-engraved—differing slightly in the setting of text and the order of the engraved headpieces (no priority established). With the “Les petits pieds” plate by the Comte de Caylus bound in near the end of the book, only “sometimes added” to copies, “better known than any of the original illustrations,” perhaps due to its “mildly suggestive” content. Engraved title page dated 1718, the year of the first edition. Cohen-de Ricci 652. Ray, The Art of the French Illustrated Book 2B.
A fine, wide-margined copy of “The Regent’s Book,” desirable in lovely contemporary French calf-gilt.