Fables de La Fontaine, Tome II

No Thumbnail Available
Jean de La Fontaine
Issue Date
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Journal Issue
Alternative Title
In 2012 I found the whole five volume work by Barret, including three volumes of Contes, at Librairie S. Thomas in Paris. I am delighted now to add second copies of the two volumes of fables. Tome I appeared in 1950. This copy is identified in Volume I as #1345 of 2200, whereas the copy found earlier is #1576. A fascinating project someday would be to compare the coloring of our two copies, since Metzner says that the illustrations are hand-colored. I can add at this point in 2200 that some of Barret's illustrations were stars in the collection's exhibit at the Joslyn Museum, including "The Cobbler and the Banker" mentioned below. As I wrote of the first copy, these volumes are printed on Vélin de Chiffon des Vosges. The pages are collected in a portfolio. As Metzner comments in Bodemann, the animals are humanized in clothing and posture. Humans are "puppenähnlich." In the frontispiece of "Acorn and Pumpkin," the philosopher gazes on the pumpkin with his finger reflectively upon his lips. The colors highlight the pumpkin and his red-and-white striped shirt. Is that the acorn off near his right foot? Metzner counts twenty-two illustrations in all in the two volumes. Further illustrations here include these. "The Hare and the Frogs" (12) displays frogs wearing old-time bathing suits. "The Stag and the Vine" (47) is perhaps Barret's most successful use of color. CJ (62) chooses a surprising moment and approach. A monkey in business suit with wife and child presents a jewel to a bumpkin cock with a multicolored tail. "The Worker and His Sons" (95) makes him very decrepit and them somehow disengaged, while a female figure looks on from further away. Barret has fun with MM (110): she sits in a swirl of a skirt and contemplates the spilt milk on the path. With those high heels, striped socks, lovely skirt, and low-cut neckline, she would be thinking about looking good in a new dress! "The Lion Grown Old" (143) again follows an unusual approach: the old lion with shrivelled face chats with a monkey. My prize in this volume goes to "The Fox and the Goat" (158), which presents the fox as a cavalier with huge hat and sword, who looks down confidently, even arrogantly, on the goat in the well with his eyeglasses and wondering look. GGE (183) presents a wonderfully suspicious older man as he holds a knife dripping with blood and looks on the murdered hen. Well done again! AD (198) presents the characters rather than the exact fable situation. The dove is wonderfully done up with hat and parasol. "The Thieves and the Ass" (223) shows again fine use of color, though the situation may not be thought through well. One thief displays beautifully colored -- and even matched -- stockings and shirt. The ass resists the efforts of the clever third thief: should he in the fable? "The Cobbler and the Banker" (238) is another triumph: Gregoire is burying his money in the basement and looks suspiciously to see if anyone is watching. There is a reminder between the two title-pages that this edition includes five volumes and that only 2200 copies were printed.
Aux Éditions Arc-en-Ciel
PubMed ID