Bernard Quaritch Ltd
Stand
23

MÉRY, Joseph, illustrated by Auguste Nicolas BERTSCH and Camille d’ARNAUD, photographers, after Jean-Louis HAMON, artist.

Les vierges de Lesbos. Poème antique. Dessins par L. Hamon. Photographiées par Bertsch et Arnaud.

MÉRY, Joseph, illustrated by Auguste Nicolas BERTSCH and Camille d’ARNAUD, photographers, after Jean-Louis HAMON, artist.

Les vierges de Lesbos. Poème antique. Dessins par L. Hamon. Photographiées par Bertsch et Arnaud. Paris, Georges Bell, 1858.

Description

4to, pp. 24 + 3 plates of salt print photographs after signed paintings by Hamon; in good, clean condition with only a few small ink stains to margins, plates foxed due to paper stock, not affecting prints; in plain printed covers, some rubs and marks, crease to upper cover; signed by Bell on verso of half-title.

Bibliography

Not in Roosens & Salu.

This illustrated edition not in Carteret. Gay - Lemonnyer, Bibliographie des ouvrages relatifs a l’amour (1899, III 1356); Catalogue de la bibliothèque de M. Félix Solar (Paris, Techener, 1860) 1379.

For Les vierges de Lesbos. Poème antique suivi du poème inédit “Nuit lesbienne”, par le même auteur (Ems, L. J. Kischberger, n.d.) see Carteret II, p. 162.

Footnote

Rare first illustrated edition, print run of three hundred, signed by the editor and friend of the author, Georges Bell. The first edition, unillustrated, was published together with Méry’s Nuit lesbienne and, according to Monselet (Catalogue … d’une jolie collection de livres rares, Paris, 1871, n. 215), was printed in an edition of only five or six copies for friends, as it was too racy to be published in France at that time.

Described by contemporary William Rossetti as ‘one of the most delicious of idyllic painters’, Hamon presents a dreamlike visual accompaniment to Méry’s text. In the first plate, Cupid, the small god sits on the ground between two young women, gently pulling them towards each other and, in the process, further undressing one while the other glances over surreptitiously. In the second plate, a woman plays with the string of beads around the other’s neck while Cupid observes the nude couple holding his bow and arrow. The final painting, La Nuit, shows Cupid travelling through the night sky on the backs of two intertwined sleeping girls, as if on a chariot, with their hair as reins and a whip in his hands. An oil-on-canvas painting of La Nuit, signed by Hamon and inscribed ‘Capri 1866’ (and thus apparently made, or completed, after the artwork illustrated here) was sold at Sotheby’s New York in 2008 for $31,250.

In 1854 Bertsch became a founder as well as a member of the Société francaise de photographie, and was on the board of directors from 1858–1870. Sometime before 1855 he began a collaboration with Arnaud – ex-director of L’Artiste and member of the Societe Heliographique – at his studio at 27 rue Fontaine Saint Georges, Paris. This partnership, which lasted until 1857, proved profitable, in particular in their reproduction of artwork. They exhibited salt prints after drawings and engravings by Da Vinci, Leseur and Bida at the Société in 1854 (Jacobson, Etude d’Apres Nature).

COPAC lists British Library only. WorldCat shows copies at Rijksmuseum, Bibliothèque national de France, and three copies in US: Cornell, Syracuse, and Northwestern.

Price

£950.00