Fables de La Fontaine, Vol. I, avec de nouvelles gravures executées en relief
La Fontaine, Jean de
This pair of volumes represents quite a little find. As I learned from a David O'Neal offering of the books, this edition represented a first in printing history. Duplat's experiment in relief engraving in stone combined relief etching and engraving with a tool but the actual printing was done from a stereotype made from the stone. The opening avertissement promises other volumes done similarly, but apparently they never appeared. The same statement is firm in saying that the price will not go over 7.5 Francs for the pair of volumes (double that on better paper)! It says that there are 266 engravings. Bodemann (#212.1) finds 269 engravings, eight of them in the Life of Aesop, and notes that some of the engravings were done by Moreau le jeune. Those for VII 10 and XI 2 are done after Moreau's work. Is not the attempt to illustrate Boys in Baskets (100) almost unique? I find that the very small format (6x4 cm) of the illustrations restrains their power. It is hard to understand what is going on in TMCM (18) even though the scene tries to depict a good deal. Among the better illustrations may be 2W (33), since it expresses action and emotion and manages to include the major elements of the fable, including a mirror. FM (144) is dramatic, and The Horse Wanting to Avenge Itself Against the Stag (150) is highly energetic. Over the sick lion's cave Passe-port is written as though on a sign (230). As Bodemann notes, some fables (like FS, 35) get two illustrations. MSA (85) gets five. She also points out that this is the first La Fontaine edition to illustrate the life of Aesop.
Ant. Aug. Renouard