A beguiling anonymous illustrated manuscript with painted miniatures on vellum.more...
The text is a poem by French poet of Greek and Franco-Levantine origin, Chénier (1762-94) who perished under the guillotine during the Terror. Praised as a precursor of the Romantics, his work was rediscovered and published during the nineteeth century. His exotic subjects, coupled with his tragic end made him a favourite among devotees of the decadent..see full details
A typical Victorian handwriting copybook, devoting a page to each letter of the alphabet, with a single sentence, phrase of word repeated over several lines, the text of varying size.more...
‘All thy commandments are righteousness’; ‘Be ye angry and sin not’; ‘Fulminate’; ‘Knowledge is Power’, ‘Mathematician’; ‘Obrometer’, ‘Vice is attended with sorrow’; ‘X begins no word in the English language’. The sequence is broken in two places, with 2 pages of elementary mathematical exercises, and the last page is signed ‘William Blundell June 29th 1868 in Sussex’..see full details
Two watercolour books kept by an English schoolboy, Henry Moore (born 1831), between the ages of fourteen and seventeen.more...
They are exceptional not for orthodox artistic merit, though they are fine (and sometimes compelling) examples of British naive art, but for their depiction of some of the minutiae of provincial domestic life. Henry was evidently an observant adolescent, who, in addition to making painstaking portraits of his family and views of his local surroundings, recorded such charming details as the pattern on the bedroom carpet at home, a flycatcher’s nest tucked into an iron gate-hinge and the elaborate icing on a traditional English ‘Twelfth Cake’.
A child of the English Midlands, Henry Moore was son of a canal agent at Stone in Staffordshire, a small town on the Trent and Mersey Canal, just South of Stoke on Trent and the Potteries. Many of the best images in his notebooks are of details of the Stone Navigation Office, suggesting the family lived on site, and he includes a fine study of the red brick and slate roofs of the rear of the office, and views of the cart shed, the cow house, the flower garden gate, the strong room, the check office, canal bridges, factory chimneys and a nearby windmill. There are also full- and double-page images of the town and its neighbouring buildings, among which the imposing red brick workhouse is outstanding. He also takes a boy’s interest in boats and trains, with two typical canal boats and a railway engine.
He makes portraits of his younger siblings, girls and boys in contemporary dress and takes pleasure in recording possessions at home: ‘mama’s opal bottle’, ‘mama’s bread-pan’, ‘mama’s great [Staffordshire] jug’, a piano, a Christmas plum pudding, candlesticks, brushes, a mother-of-pearl bookmark and several domestic fabric patterns. There are also records of trips further afield: with boats on the Severn and Mersey, the organ at Worcester, while an intriguing sequence shows domestic details of a particular house in Calthorpe Street, [Bloomsbury, London], with a parlour and bed, carefully depicted.
He was sent to boarding school at Bromsgrove, another canal town some 60 miles away in neighbouring Worcestershire, where he attended the Free School, then undergoing a tercentenary rejuvenation under pioneering schoolmaster John Day Collis (see Oxford DNB). Here, Moore made views of the new school buildings and of the church from the school playground. According to the school records he seems to have been a model student, winning a prize every year and earning a scholarship to Oxford, where he went up to Worcester College in 1849. He took both a BA and MA, became a fellow in the course of 15 years spent at Oxford. He apparently then became a cleric in London.
Moore also includes numerous imaginative scenes, usually rather more crudely drawn than those from life: many are of soldiers in uniform and several are of circus performers. He clearly had access to books too, and there are copies of scenes from Francis Edward Paget’s Hope of the Katzekopfs; Or, the Sorrows of Selfishness. A Fairy Tale (1846), Dickens’s Martin Chuzzlewit (1843), Moule’s English Counties (1837), Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and Hamlet, Shaw’s Travels (1746 and several later editions) and the ‘Panorama of the Battle of Sabraon’ (exhibited 1846, and perhaps seen either in the flesh or via published engravings)..see full details
An autograph copy of a classic text of French orientalism, made by the author for his wife and inscribed ‘À Etelka, ma femme bien-aimée, qui est pour moi toute la splendour du monde et toute la poësie.more...
Franz Toussaint. Mai 1936.’
Le Jardin des caresses. Traduit de l'arabe, consisting of Toussaint’s interpretation of Moorish poems, partly anonymous, written in tenth-century Spain, first appeared serially in the Mercure de France and Revue de Paris in 1909-1911, then published together in 1911 and reprinted and translated in numerous editions throughout the twentieth century (the Golden Cockerel Press printed an English edition in 1934). Its numerous short stanzas, whose titles include: ‘Les Seins, les yeux, et la chevelure’, ‘Les oiseaux de la mosquée’, ‘La Sultane de l’amour’, ‘Al Maghreb’, ‘Les Sorciers’, ‘L’Astronome’ and ‘La Volupueuse’proved especially suitable for musical settings and so the work also found huge popularity in song.
Toussaint is an interesting figure, both a respected scholarly translator of Arabic and other eastern languages, and a director of silent films, the best-known of which is Inch’Allah of 1922. This appealing little manuscript was evidently made by the author as a gift for his second wife, Turkish-born Adelaïde Etelca Stefania Braggiotti, who he married in 1925. .see full details
An early manuscript version of a notorious libelle against the French royal mistress, which had been composed and published in London (1758-9) and suppressed on the instructions of the French government.more...
A vicious satire, highlighting Madame de Pompadour’s humble origins, the Histoire articulates the familiar anxiety over the power and influence of a woman at court. While not overtly pornographic, its theme is the profound immorality surrounding the court of Louis XV.
The author, Marianne-Agnès Pillement, a defrocked nun, is a most interesting figure, publishing several novels in Paris before being forced to flee to London where she made a living as a tutor to the children of the wealthy. The purpose of Histoire de Madame de Pompadour seems to have been blackmail. English, French and German editions appeared in 1758 and 1759 (it is not clear which came first) with London imprints though they may well have been printed abroad (ESTC hazards Leipzig, Holland and the Low Countries as possibilities for the several early editions). French agents in London were charged with the purchase and destruction of copies, though the number of distinct issues and editions suggests the publishers outwitted them. As always with such clandestine works, manuscripts were also a tempting option. Our example contains the full text (with numerous minor variations) together with some additional materials, including a version of Madame Pompadour’s will.
Loosely inserted is a mildly-plausible forgery of a Pompadour autograph letter dated 1749, accompanied by a much later expertise by the Paris autograph dealer Charavay declaring it “fausse”..see full details
Superb examples of the late-nineteenth-century medieval revival and specimens of the trade in painted miniatures imitating (innocently or not) the manuscript painting of the Middle Ages.more...
These miniatures can been attributed to Ernesto Sprega, restorer of the Raphael frescoes in the Vatican, or another facsimilist in his circle (cf. Manuscript Illumination in the Modern Age, ed. S. Hindman et al., 2001, pp. 120-22). The borders and the frames of the miniatures are bravura imitations of ornate Italian models of the late fifteenth- or early sixteenth-century, perhaps even recalling the lavish and gaudy borders strewn with gold and brightly-coloured, fleshy foliage produced by Liberale da Verona (c. 1445-1530).
Whether these are pastiches or forgeries intended to deceive unwary buyers is a question for discussion. Certainly there are numerous examples of similar creations (notably by the Spanish Forger) sold in Europe to foreign (usually American) buyers in search of authentic medieval manuscript cuttings, and it is interesting that the artist here has offset the miniatures to one side of the leaf, leaving a blank space (approximately 10mm. wide) on one vertical edge, giving the impression to the casual observer that these are singletons, taken from a book, while in fact the vellum shows no signs of having ever been bound into a volume.
The subjects of the miniatures:
Leaf 1: recto, Christ entering Jerusalem on a donkey; verso, Christ seated in a hilly landscape surrounded by children, one of whom sits on his lap, and another holds a lamb.
Leaf 2: recto, Christ surrounded by the Apostles in a wooded landscape; verso, Christ before his followers accepting a golden ring from a richly dressed Jew and a young man (some rubbing to young man's face on verso and scratch through corner of miniature).
Leaf 3: recto, The Scourging of Christ (some minor paint flaking to base of miniature); verso, St. Paul cutting off Malchus' ear in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Leaf 4: recto, Christ before followers exposing his wound to Thomas; verso, the Descent from the Cross (small scratch to latter). Leaf 5: recto, bearded man with followers kneels as God appears as a bearded face in upper left-hand corner of miniature; verso, the same man standing before a medieval town gate surrounded by townspeople..see full details
A striking manuscript sample book, made by Joseph de Rosny (1771-1814), who had been a prolific playwright, novelist, journalist and poet of the Revolutionary period.more...
The manuscript opens with designs for inscriptions to the Imperial family (Napoleon, Empress Marie Louise, Joseph Bonaparte and his wife Marie Julie Clary). De Rosny also demonstrates his proficiency in a variety of historic and ethnographic scripts: including gothic, old English, runic, Egyptian, Georgian, Russian, Babylonian and Celtic and gives designs for several engraved inscriptions and cartouches.
De Rosny’s many published works included the novel Le Peruvien a Paris (1801) and a melodrama Adonis, ou le bon Nègre (1798). He settled at Valenciennes, where he edited a progressive journal and was part of a liberal circle..see full details
A design portfolio, mostly dating from the last years of the Great War, made by one W.more...
How, who otherwise unknown, but presumably a young woman studying commercial design at a British college of art and design. The formal and informal elements of the collection, which includes many superb pencil and wash designs together with fabric and wallpaper samples, bridge the Arts and Crafts movement of the early century and a striking emergent modernism.
These spectacular designs are mostly formal exercises in pattern design, with an emphasis on the construction of repeating patterns, interchange, and counterchange (designs in which a certain colour of a motif and its ground are reversed in another part of the design). Also included are a number of more experimental designs, strikingly modernist, usually single panels, some elements of which are incorporated into the formal exercises. In several cases the time taken to make each sheet is noted (usually several hours), reflecting the commercial background of this formal training. The manuscript captions provide a key to each assignment, and some of the designs are marked with tutor’s comments (’good’, ‘beautiful’, excellent’, ‘all units too separate’, ‘good set but panel decoration has a sense of dropping at the centre’, ‘you want to try and get your units to unite’ etc).
Indian, geometric, floral, animals,
One rough pencil sketch in on the verso of a letterpress flyer for a benefit exhibition at Welwyn Garden City for the Women’s Committee for the Relief of Miner’s Wives & Children, at which pictures by Brangwyn, Nash, Rothenstein, Spencer and Fry were on sale, inadvertently providing a neat context for our designer’s work..see full details
A DELIGHTFUL BOOK, CERTAINLY ONE OF THE MOST CHARMING FRENCH MANUSCRIPTS WE HAVE ENCOUNTERED, A COLLECTION OF FAMILY SONGS AND ENTERTAINMENTS COMPOSED OVER A PERIOD OF 20 YEARS to 1808, memorialising a deep and sentimental friendship between two families with young daughters.more...
The compiler, Césaire Delaplanche and his wife Marie Adelaïde (Adèle), produced three daughters: Virginie, Heloïse and Pauline and father Césaire encouraged them to mark family occasions in song, a tradition which lasted at least the 20 years charted by the manuscript. The hundreds of original songs here were composed by the girls (presumably with their father’s help) for birthdays, New Year celebrations, feast days, weddings, visits, reunions and suppers and for recording gifts (an embroidered purse and tobacco case are mentioned), in honour of tutors, or in memory of deceased relations and friends. Each verse is transcribed in full, headed with the name of the popular tune to which they were sung: Femmes, voulez-vous éprouver?, Femme Sensible Entendre-tu le ramage, Pauvre Jaques, Sous les auspices de l’Hymen, to name but a few.
The story told by the manuscript is not without sadness. The death of the Delaplanche girls’ mother in 1805 drew the remaining family closer to their friends M. and Mme Loiseau and their daughter Julie. Indeed the book seems to be largely a homage to the kindness of the Loiseaus to the bereaved Delaplanches around that time, beautifully expressed in the allegorical frontispiece. Three young girls, Amitié, Estime and Reconnaissance (corresponding to Virginie, Heloïse and Pauline Delaplanche) offer a red book, La Clef des coeurs, to a bird (Loiseau) perched in a tree, who accepts it and takes the girls to a marble pavilion, the Temple du Bonheur & de la Vertu.
The verses are simple, sentimental and affecting, extolling the virtues of familial love and respect and reflecting the proverbial strength of filial respect in French society. One particular entertaiment, Hommage à la Reconnaisance. Ou Combat entre l’amitié & l’amour filiale, is emblematic of the manuscript as a whole, in expressing the gentle tension between friendship and family love. The songs are in no way pious, and the relative absence of religious imagery is striking. In fact, the impingement of the outside world on this subtle family drama is only lightly felt, and then only in ghosts of the French Imperial presence. The orderliness of the manuscript is disturbed in two places, tellingly. Seven leaves are cut out after p. 232, with the Index indicating that these contained a Chanson en l’honneur de l’Empereur (the Index entry itself is erased at an early date), while two further leaves (pp. 433-436) are on different paper, clearly substitutions, which bear another version of a chanson dedicated to Napoleon.
The implied narrative of the collection is brought to a close in 1808 with the engagement of Julie, the Loiseau daughter to a M. Dupézard. The two are married in October, accompanied by family songs and verses, in which the young groom is expected to participate (several of the last songs are his), and the manuscript closes with a valedictory poem by Césaire Delaplanche: ‘Il est fini mes bons amis...’.see full details
Folio (335 × 210 mm), pp. , plus several blank leaves at end. Text in manuscript, full-page illustrations in crayon or pastel. Lightly browned throughout, fragile at edges with minor fraying, all the result of poor quality paper. In original cloth backed notebook. Binding rather worn. A handsome chanson manuscript, anonymous but for the decorative initials 'J.B'. The songs include: 'Le Pigeon blessé', 'Sous les Platanes', 'Carmen', 'Chagrins d'Amour', 'Juanita', 'La Femme est un jouette' and 'Mort pour la France'.
II. Émile LEBLOND. Dijon, c. 1904.
Manuscript, 4to (214 × 170 mm), pp. 1-12, 17-98, 101-102, 105-270, 280-320, several blanks at rear. Evidence of 3 leaves removed, perhaps by the maker. Numerous drawings in ink and crayon, decorative headings. Original cloth notebook. Rather rubbed. An illustrated chansonnier made by a soldier of the First Artillery, stationed at Dijon. This is an especially full example which gives some unusual details as to its making: Leblond occasionally records the number of weeks he has been in service and there is evidence of carbon tracing, demonstrating the use of illustrations from popular journals in making these chansonniers. The songs include: 'Berceuse militaire', 'L'Africaine', 'Chapeai bas devant la Marseillais', 'Vous êtes si jolie', 'Four frou' and 'Ma Ninette'.
III. Yvan LOREAU. Chemillé-sur-Seine, c. 1909.
Manuscript, small 4to (216 × 175 mm), pp. , 88, ruled paper. Drawings in ink and crayon. Original limp wrappers. Yvan Loreau writes on his title-page that this manuscript was made 'Sur le tour de France' and begun on 11th December 1909. Songs include: 'Voila la Parisienne', 'Le petit coeur de Ninon', 'Ah! Ma p'tit Lili', 'Le ruban bleu de l'hirondelle' and 'Pas sur la bouche'.
IV. Alexandre MOULLET, 'le gros bâtarde'. Valence, 1913-14.
Manuscript (on squared paper), 4to (222 × 170 mm), pp. . Drawings in ink and crayon, partially unfinished. Some thumbing and fraying, one leaf loose. Original half cloth notebook. An illustrated chansonnier made on the eve of the Great War for one Alexandre Moullet, picturesquely nicknamed 'le gros bâtarde', of the 5eme Régiment d'Artillerie lourde, 8ème batterie, at Valence (Drôme). Songs include: 'Les petites Toulonnaises'; 'Soldat vierge', 'Marins de Marseille', 'Coeur Crise', 'Sur la Riviera' and 'Le dernier Tango'.
V. REDON. Valbonne (Ain), 1921.
Manuscript on paper, small 4to (216 × 170 mm), pp. , plus numerous blanks at rear, numerous drawings in pencil, ink and crayon (a couple cut from newspapers or journals, decorative headings. Original half cloth notebook. Songs include: 'Tu voudrais me voir pleurer', 'La vals du pastis', 'Vous rendez tous les hommes fou' and 'Le train fatale'. One verse is subscribed 'Fait a la Valbonne le 12-12-21 une soiré de grand froid'. .see full details
A delightful fin-de-siècle devotional manuscript illuminated with great skill by a Miss Maury of Nice, reputedly when in her nineties.more...
Each day of the week is provided with prayers and devotions written in her neat calligraphic hand and almost every page bears at least one example of her minutely-rendered illumination. About the maker we know nothing else. She signs and dates the manuscript at the end..see full details
A remarkable manuscript account of a French campaign in Bavaria and Bohemia during the first Silesian War, in the form of extracts from (unpublished) letters from an artillery major.more...
It is subtitled: ‘Extrait des lettres ecrittes par Mr. Du Gravier surtout ce qui s’est passé depuis le depart des Trouppes de France pour la Bavière, jusqu’au retour de celles que Mr. Le M[arécha]l de Belisle a ramenée de Prague.’ The campaign was led by the Maréchals de Broglie and de Belle Isle and the detailed extracts cover the march to Prague, its storming by French troops in 26 November 1741, the subsequent siege at the hands of the Austrian army and the escape of some 14,000 French troops from the city in December 1742..see full details
An idiosyncratic personal index of useful and curious facts, mainly geographical, in part forming an index to the Encyclopédie Méthodique (which had been issued in print without an index), a gazetteer to its Atlas, and an index to various other books, such as Valmont de Bomare’s Histoire Naturelle and Lacroix’s Géographie.more...
A homespun affair, the volume is rather haphazardly arranged and presented in homemade boards covered in rather fine contemporary wallpaper. It includes references to regions, cities and landmarks in Europe, Asia, Africa and America (the latter including mentions of Cabot, Columbus and Penn) and several ingenious diagrams of the rivers of France..see full details
A splendid display of early nineteenth-century Chinese trades including craftspeople, a bookseller, purveyors of foods, medicines, fans, kites, toys and even a lion dancer, each drawing on one side of fine double-folded paper, captioned in ink in Chinese.more...
Albums such as these were produced in Chinese studios for the export market and were especially popular with Europeans for their exact portrayal of various aspects of Chinese life of the period: customs, costumes, occupations, flora and fauna. They ‘depicted those phases of Chinese life which fascinated the Westerner but defied descriptions to friends and family at home. Before the advent of the camera, this medium played an extremely vital role in revealing Oriental culture to the West.’ (Crossman, The China Trade, 1972). Though marketed to curious Europeans these albums represent important interpretations of Chinese life by indigenous Chinese artists. The present example is notable for being dated 1843, at the very end of the First Opium War just as five ports in China were being opened to the British.
These albums were luxury products, each one individually produced, and therefore priced beyond the means of any but the wealthy. Individual artists were never identified.
Lady Churchill, the original owner of the album, was born Lady Frances Fitzroy, the fifth daughter of Augustus Henry Fitzroy, third duke of Grafton. In 1801 she married Francis Almeric Spencer, youngest son of the fourth Duke of Marlborough and created first Baron Churchill of Wychwood in 1815. It is unlikely that the elderly Baron Churchill and his wife were in China at the time she received the album, and much more probable that it was presented to Lady Churchill in England as a gift, possibly by one of her military sons such as George Augustus Spencer, who was an officer in a regiment serving in China. .see full details
A complete autograph manuscript of one of De Kock’s acutely observed novels of gritty Parisian life.more...
In Le Tourlourou (1837) a young barmaid, Marie, is the object of a strange case of mistaken relationship when a letter arrives from a countess seeking ‘l’objet de mes plus chères affections’. Marie assumes the letter refers to her, but when she finds out the Countess is merely asking after an item of lost property, she becomes distraught and throws herself into the Canal Saint-Martin. She is saved by a young man who has previously tried and failed to gain her affections, and the two are married.
The Oxford Companion to French Literature describes De Kock (1794-1871) as ‘the prolific and immensely popular author of rollicking, risky, or more often frankly coarse, frequently sentimental and fundamentally good-natured novels.’ Certainly prolific, De Kock published over 100 novels, which attained worldwide celebrity in translation, especially in American and British collected editions (of which it is sometimes wryly noted that the prose was much improved by translation). This manuscript certainly gives the impression of rollicking speed; this is not a fair copy, and while there are many deletions and emendations, these do not seem to have detained the author for long. .see full details
A handsome Romantic reinterpretation of Vignola’s classic Renaissance manual of perspective, Due regole della prospettiva pratica (1582, with many later editions).more...
Elements of Vignola’s diagrams are adapted for the oblong format of the book an often updated with figures and buildings in contemporary style. Bossi, about who we have been able to discover almost nothing beyond this manuscript, also adds a fine sequence of 4 coloured illustrations depicting furniture designs in the French Empire style by Percier and 17 superb monochrome views and interiors, 13 of which are in a sequence with their own decorative title-page ‘Aggiunta di alcune prospettive ricavae da classici autori’.see full details