ILLUSTRATED LIFE AND ART OF MEISSONIER, IN A LOVELY CEDRIC CHIVERS ART NOUVEAU ‘VELLUCENT’ BINDING
(MEISSONIER, Jean-Louis-Ernest) GRÉARD, Vallery C.O. Meissonier: His Life and His Art. London: William Heinemann, 1897. Large, thick quarto, contemporary full vellum, spine and front cover painted in an Art Nouveau style with green, red, purple and pink, with mother-of-pearl onlays,overlaid with transparent vellum in the vellucent style and finished with gilt, marbled endpapers, top edge gilt, uncut. $1650.
First English edition of this life of the renowned painter and illustrator of Napoleonic and military scenes, beautifully bound by Cedric Chivers of Bath in his characteristic ‘vellucent’ style.
Meissonier was a French classicist painter who made a name for himself with his renderings of scenes from the Napoleonic wars and military themes. This richly illustrated biography includes 38 full-page plates of his work—18 in color—and over 200 in-text illustrations. More than half the book is devoted to a very generous selection of passages from the artist’s journals. Includes a catalogue of the artist’s works. Innovative bookbinder Cedric Chivers developed a trademark style of binding known as ‘vellucent,’ in which delicate watercolor paintings on paper would be laid down on the book’s covers and spine, and then covered with vellum specially treated to be transparent. (The word vellucent is a mixture of vellum with translucent.) The vellum would protect the image and any stones that might also be incorporated into the design—such as mother-of-pearl in the present design—and then be tooled with gilt to further enhance the appearance. In devising these vellucent bindings Chivers paid homage to the renowned bookbinder Edwards of Halifax of the 18th century, who achieved similar effects by painting the undersides of transparent vellum.
Vellum only slightly darkened. Interior fine. A beautiful volume in fine condition.