FLAUBERT, Gustave. Émile BOILVIN, illustrator. ~ Madame Bovary. [5 copper plates]. Paris: [Imprimerie Salmon] Alphonse Lemerre, [ 1876].
5original etched and engraved copper plates (135 × 82 mm), each with original drab paper wrapper bearing a mounted impression, marked ‘Bovary’ in pencil. Together with a copy of the separately issued suite of the complete set of 7 plates for the edition.
Fiveoriginal copper plates for the first printed illustrations for Madame Bovary. Flaubert wrote in 1862, ‘Jamais, moi vivant, on ne m’illustrera’, convinced that any illustration of his novels was unnecessary and would constrain the imagination of the reader, and no illustrated editions appeared before his death. The suite of seven plates by Boilvin for the publisher Lemerre was thus an exception, unwelcome in Flaubert’s eyes. Though contemporary readers and booksellers certainly had them bound into their copies of the novel, they were resolutely published apart from the text. Flaubert wrote in a letter to his niece Caroline: ‘La Bovary est illustrée (à part) depuis longtemps. Les dessins concernant le livre à peu près comme la lune’ (Corr. V, p.773). The five copper plates here, which include the title page for the suite are preserved in their original print-shop sleeves, marked in pencil, and are accompanied by a copy of the complete suite in the original printed portfolio by Lemerre.
s Gallice has charted, the novel was to become the most illustrated of all his works once the authorial restriction on illustration was lifted at his death in 1880, with a stream of illustrated editions following. Bruno Gallice, ‘Rémanence de Madame Bovary dans l’édition illustrée’, Flaubert: Revue critique et génétique, 12 (2014).