Memoirs of Napoleon

NAPOLEON   |   Louis Antoine Fauvelet de BOURRIENNE

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“AH! BOURRIENNE, YOU ALSO WILL BE IMMORTAL!”: BOURRIENNE’S MEMOIRS OF NAPOLEON, WITH FINE COSWAY-STYLE PORTRAIT OF NAPOLEON IN VOLUME I—THE DOHENY COPY

(NAPOLEON) BOURRIENNE, Louis Antoine Fauvelet de. Memoirs of Napoleon. London: Richard Bentley and Son, 1885. Three volumes. Octavo, early 20th-century full crimson crushed morocco, gilt-decorated spines, covers, and dentelles, Volume I with Cosway-style miniature portrait of Napoleon behind glass inset into morocco doublure, watered silk endpapers, all edges gilt and gauffered. Housed in a custom slipcase.

Revised and expanded illustrated edition in English of Bourrienne’s classic biography of Napoleon, three volumes very handsomely bound by Sangorski & Sutcliffe in full morocco with a Cosway-style miniature portrait of Napoleon inset into the front pastedown of Volume I. From the renowned collection of Carrie Estelle and Edward Laurence Doheny, with their bookplates in each volume.

Of contemporary accounts of Napoleon, “among the best of the French eyewitness observations are the Memoirs of Bourrienne, a schoolmate of Napoleon from their days at military school in the early 1780s. Napoleon then employed Bourrienne as his private secretary beginning in 1797, and Bourrienne accompanied Napoleon on his campaign in Egypt… the Memoirs, first published in 1829 and a popular sensation from the moment of their publication… have stood the test of time” (Tignor, Memoirs of Napoleon, Introduction). Cosway bindings (named for renowned 19th-century English miniaturist Richard Cosway) were first commissioned in the early 1900s by J.H. Stonehouse from the famous Rivière bindery, who employed Miss C.B. Currie to faithfully imitate Cosway’s detailed watercolor style of portraiture. These delicate miniature paintings, often on ivory, were set into the covers or doublures of richly-tooled bindings and protected by thin panes of glass. Cosway bindings executed by other than the original collaborators are designated as “Cosway-style” bindings— still splendid productions— by such esteemed binderies as Bayntun-Rivière, Sangorski & Sutcliffe, Morrell, and Bumpus. With the bookplates of renowned Los Angeles bibliophiles and philanthropists Edward Laurence and Carrie Estelle Doheny. Carrie Estelle Doheny was among the earliest female book collectors in the United States, having purchased her first rare book in 1931. Under the tutelage of Frank Hogan and A.S.W. Rosenbach she continued to buy books and manuscripts until her death in 1958. Her great collection, consisting of incunabula (including a Gutenberg Bible), medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, Western Americana, early printing, literature, and fine bindings, was for many years housed at the Vincentian Seminary of St. John’s in Camarillo, California. In 1987 a decision was made by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to return many of the Doheny treasures to the market.

Fine condition. A splendid set, with fine Cosway-style portrait of Napoleon, and with distinguished provenance.

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NAPOLEON   |   Laure, Duchess D'Abrantes JUNOT   |   Louis Antoine Fauvelet de BOURRIENNE   |   William HAZLITT