“CREATED MODERN FRENCH COMEDY”: WORKS OF MOLIERE, BEAUTIFULLY BOUND AND ILLUSTRATED
MOLIERE, Jean-Baptiste Pocquelin. Oeuvres de Moliere. Paris: No publisher, 1734. Six volumes. Quarto, contemporary full tan crushed morocco gilt, elaborately gilt-decorated spines and covers, raised bands, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. Housed in a custom leather-edged slipcase. $13,500.
Lovely quarto edition of Moliere’s works in six volumes, beautifully illustrated with frontispiece portrait of Moliere by Coypel and 33 copper-engraved plates after drawings by Francois Boucher, “the most successful painter of the day” (Ray), as well as numerous engraved initials, head- and tailpieces, many also by Boucher. Exquisitely bound in lovely full contemporary French calf-gilt.
“Molière may be said to have created modern French comedy by giving it a serious basis, where there had previously been little but farces and comedies of intrigue… His genius lay in his ability to combine profound observation of human nature in its complexity and in its foibles with the power of presenting these in their amusing aspect” (Harvey & Heseltine, 487). “General opinion holds that the Boucher Molière and the Oudry La Fontaine are the two masterpieces of French book illustration during the first half of the 18th century… The book’s format is noble, Molière’s text is presented with more care than ever before, and Laurent Cars’ engravings catch the spontaneity and elegance of Boucher’s sketches with easy precision” (Ray). First state, with “Comteese” in Volume VI, page 360, line 12. Bound with all half titles. Text in French. Ray, The Art of the French Illustrated Book 6. Brunet III, 1798. Cohen-de Ricci, 712-14. Library ink stamp (Fürstenberg, Donauschingen) to title pages and inscriptions on front blanks in an early hand.
A bit of minor expert restoration to a few spine ends. Fine condition. A beautiful set in contemporary French calf-gilt of this splendidly illustrated edition.