Fables Choisies Mises en Vers par J. de la Fontaine: Nouvelle Edition Gravée en taille-douce, Vol. VI
La Fontaine, Jean de
This is a curious set of six volumes, beautifully bound, replicating the Fessard edition of 1765-75, as the colophon near the end of the book points out. This sixth volume (Books 11 and 12) was published in 1775. I can find no other number than the 102 that seems part of the printed colophon material, and so I am not sure that this is in fact #102 of 800. The good news is that there is now some represention of Fessard's work in the collection. Metzner writes in Bodemann that this is the first fully engraved LaFontaine edition. Montulay was apparently the engraver for the texts. The engraved illustrations are presented in frames similar to those one would find around Oudry's work. The reproductions are, I would say, no better than adequate. Almost every fable receives three illustrations: a full-page engraving, a headpiece, and a tailpiece. Metzner gives a good sense of the artistic sources for each volume, but I am surprised not to find Oudry mentioned. Perhaps these engravings remind me of his work because they reflect the same culture and artistic tendencies. Both engravings are expressive for Le Vieillard et les Trois Jeunes Hommes (on and facing 26). The engraving facing 90 shows the horse delivering a square blow to the jaw of the wolf, as the fox looks on. Fessard et all do a good job on Un Fou et un Sage on 101, facing 101, and 102. Lovely leather bindings, marbled endpapers, a page-marking ribbon, and gilded page-edges all the way around.