A superb fashion album from the year of the Paris siege, with a great variety of dated designs showing the vogue for dresses emphasising a narrow figure with low sloping shoulders and skirts gathered extravagantly at the back with ribbons, tapes, ruches and ruffles.more...
Outdoor and walking dresses, evening dresses, hairstyles, headresses, veils, parasols, nightgowns, shoes and coats. Colours, especially for outdoor wear, tend towards darker palettes with deep greens, mauves and black in abundance.
Despite the Franco-Prussian war and the advance of the Germans on Paris, the city remained at the centre of the fashion world. The military realities of the Paris siege of that year impinge with one image of a rifleman (franc-tireur) of the Légion de la Seine (dated 25 August 1870) and the styles for 1871 exhibiting occasional military references with square cut coat pockets, brocades and frogging..see full details
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
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
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 design portfolio, mostly dating from the last years of the Great War: early work by a progressive young female designer, Winifred How, made at a so-far unidentified British college of art and design.more...
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).
She had evidently been a pupil of the progressive Margaret Morris dance movement. As a designer she provided musical notation and script for Eleanor and Harry Farjeon’s First (and Second) Chap-book of Rounds (1919 and 1920) and in the early 20s she contributed to the progressive magazine Form edited by Austin Osman Spare and W.H. Davies and Spare’s Golden Hind. It is likely she married in 1921. A letterpress flyer found among her designs here also provides a neat context for How’s workis 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..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
An autograph manuscript of Claire Duras’s Pensées de Louis XIV; her first book, composed in March 1821, but not published in print until Didot’s small edition of 1827 (very rare with OCLC recording the Bn copy only).more...
Claire Duras is best known as the author of the novel Ourika (1824) famously recounting the true story of black slave girl brought up in France. Ourika, like the Pensées de Louis XIV, was first aired in her celebrated literary salon, described as ‘among the most brilliant of the Restoration period’ (Oxford Companion to French Literature). Duras was an important member of the circle around Chateaubriand who she met while in exile in England and who became a frequenter of her salon. Duras’ dedication inscription in our manuscript is to their mutual friend, Louise Angélique de Vintimille (1763-1831) another well-known salon hostess.
Like Chateaubriand and many of their circle in Restoration Paris, Duras looked back at the reign of Louis XIV as a golden age and eagerly read his Mémoires in the two editions published respectively by Montagnac and Grouvelle in 1806. It was a fashionable preoccupation to select, collect and discuss the maxims of the Sun King, presumably as a barometer of contemporary government, but surely also as treasures of cultivated French pros. In the Pensées Duras selects 70 extracts, ranging from a couple of lines to over a page each, drawn from the 1806 edition together with a few from the seventeenth-century editions. She opens with: ‘Choisir de bons sujets et maintenir la règle, voila la science de tout bon gouvernement’, supposedly written by the King on the first leaf of a journal given him Madame de Maintenon, according to an anecdote recounted by Madame de Genlis in 1811. Others include ‘Il n’y a rien qui puisse faire en si peu de tems de si grands effets que la bonne ou la mauvaise réputation des princes’; ‘Il faut beaucoup de lumières pour savoir discerner au vrai ceux qui nous flattent d’avec ceux qui nous admirent’ [a line previously selected by Chateaubriand in his review of one of the 1806 editions of Louis XIV’s Oeuvres]; ‘Le plus sûr chemin de la gloire est toujours celui que montre la raison’; ‘L’art de connoître les hommes se peut apprendre, mais ne se peut enseigner’; ‘La décision a besoin d’un esprit de maître’..see full details
A collection of devotional texts by or about the first official mistress of Louis XIV, who, after her fall from favour, retired to a Carmelite convent in 1674 and took the veil.more...
Her penitence, lasting until her death in 1710 was widely discussed and generated many accounts as well as her own Réflexions sur la Miséricorde de Dieu, first published in 1680, frequently reprinted and forming the last part of our manuscript collection. The texts here all seem to have been collected from these printed sources. Contents:
—L’Abrégé de la vie de la pénitence de Madame la duchesse de La Vallière. pp. 1-22 —Lettres de la soeur de la Vallière à Monsieur le maréchal de Bellefond soit avant soit depuis son entrée aux Carmélites. pp. 22-107 —Elévations de coeur à nôtre Seigneur Jesus-christ par rapport à la sainte Communion composées par la soeur Louise de la Miséricorde et tirées mot à mot de l'extrait écrit de sa main. pp. 107-118 —Lettre circulaire des Carmélites. pp. 118-141 —Sermon de messire Jean-Louis de Fromentières (...) pour la vêture de Madame de La Vallière. pp. 142-207 —Sermon pour la profession de Madame Françoise de la Baume Le Blanc de la Vallière duchesse de Vaujour prononcé en présence de la Reine le 4 juin 1675 dans l'Eglise des carmélites du fauxbourg saint Jacques. pp. 207-271 —Réflexions sur la Miséricorde de Dieu en forme de prières. pp. 271-350..see full details
First edition in English of the amorous letters, attributed to the famous courtesan (1620-1705), but actually by Louis Damours or Claude Prosper Jolyot de Crébillon.more...
The letters, first published in French the previous year, are based on Ninon’s actual seduction of a young Marquis, but are presented as a series of lessons in the art of love from the older and experienced woman. An early reader has drawn a small cartouche portrait on the front pastedown. .see full details