UZANNE, Octave. Henri, CARUCHET, illustrator. ~ Voyage autour de sa chambre... Illustrations de Henri Caruchet, gravées à l’eau-forte par Frédéric Massé... Paris: H. Floury, pour les Bibliophiles indépéndants, ‘1896’ [but wrapper dated 1897 as called for].
4to (270 × 190 mm), pp. , 34, ; , 34, . Etched and engraved throughout, etched civilité text, the first suite (with letters) with elaborate pochoir coloured borders, the second suite (without letters) being cancelled plates with added images to the blank central portions. Uncut in original double wrappers of pale blue and decorative cream papers, preserved in blue morocco, gilt, pale blue and yellow silk brocade endpapers, by the Club Bindery (New York). Upper cover very slightly faded and rubbed, joints expertly and very unobtrusively repaired. A beautiful copy.
First edition thus, subscriber’s copy, number 77 of 210 copies, complete with a suite of cancelled plates in monochrome. With its title a nod to Le Maistre’s famous confinement narrative, Voyage autour de ma chambre (1794, Uzanne’s Voyage autour de sa chambre is ‘Une ancienne chanson d’amour voltige dans la solitude; dans ce nid charmant où l’on était si bien à deux, il ne reste que des rêves de volupté indécise et la sarabande enlaçante, mystérieuse et sinistre des souvenirs, ces revenants de l’âme qu'on évoque, qu’on chasse et qu’on appelle encore’.
A delicious bibliophilic production and one of Octave Uzanne’s rarest books: the limitation noting: ‘Après tirage les cuivres ont été lacérés.’ The additional suite consists of the cancelled plates, in which central portions left blank for the overprinting of the text from other plates have been filled in with etched croquis, often humorous, of: fashionable women, a devil, a bat, a rat and so on. The two sets of original wrappers are preserved, one with the design by Henry Thiriet. Uzanne’s productions are the zenith of a certain strand of 1890s Parisian bibliophilia: with precision and exactitude of the latest printing techniques harnessed to produce a series of works of rare beauty. Caruchet’s illuminated borders are perfect examples of art nouveau’s decadent themes, though lightened throughout with delicate and elegant botanical forms.
Uzannes’s text had first appeared in his Calendrier de Vénus (1880, pp. 127-150). Not in Carteret. Outside continental Europe, OCLC lists copies at the British Library (with one additional suite, as here) and Texas (with two additional suites). Uzanne is extensively discussed in Silverman’s excellent The New Bibliopolis: French Book Collectors and the Culture of Print, 1880-1914 (Studies in Book and Print Culture, 2013).